Dressing up popcorn for an Oscars viewing party

ELIZABETH KARMEL
The Associated Press
Modified: February 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm •  Published: February 18, 2013
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photo - In this image taken on Jan. 28, 2013, the recipe for Stovetop Popcorn Many Ways, from top clockwise, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and salted peanuts, melted chocolate, sweet and spicy barbeque rub, finely grated parmesan cheese, and truffle salt, is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on Jan. 28, 2013, the recipe for Stovetop Popcorn Many Ways, from top clockwise, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and salted peanuts, melted chocolate, sweet and spicy barbeque rub, finely grated parmesan cheese, and truffle salt, is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (depending on the size of the pot)

1/3 to 1/2 cup popcorn kernels (depending on the size of the pot)

Fine-grain sea salt or other seasoned toppings

Heat an empty cast-iron Dutch oven over low heat for 2 minutes.

Add enough olive oil to the pot to thinly coat the entire bottom. Add a single layer of popcorn kernels. You want them to be touching but not more than one layer thick. Increase the heat to medium and place the lid on the pot. Wait until popping begins, then turn the heat down slightly.

Shake the pot every 30 seconds or so. Start shaking a bit more when the popping starts to subside. When the kernels stop popping in unison and you only hear one pop every couple of seconds, it is done.

Pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Season generously with the toppings listed below, or another one of your favorites. Toss the popcorn in the bowl and sprinkle with additional seasoning several times to make sure you have an even coating. Serve immediately or let cool.

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DRY POPCORN TOPPINGS

— Truffle salt

— 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

— Barbecue rub (use purchased or the recipe below)

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SWEET AND SPICY BARBECUE RUB

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup paprika

2 tablespoons superfine sugar

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons dried chipotle chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

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WET POPCORN TOPPINGS

Be certain to spread the popcorn flat on a baking sheet before adding wet toppings, then let it set before serving.

— Melted chocolate

— Melted chocolate and peanut butter

— Melted caramels and a pinch of salt

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DRY POPCORN TOPPINGS

— Maple sugar and crispy bits of smoked bacon

— Mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and chopped salted peanuts

— Mini M&Ms, chopped roasted almonds and dried coconut

— Ragin' Cajun Spice mixture

— Lemon-pepper salt

— Italian spice blend and finely grated Parmesan cheese

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."

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