I have a serious infatuation with popcorn. Serious infatuation. I love settling into a dark movie theater with a tub of buttery popcorn between my Chief Culinary Consultant and I, and a Diet Coke on my other side. The smell is intoxicating, and we don’t make it more than a minute before we’re reaching for the kernels that leave our fingers with a thin film of butter and studded with salt. I know many in the foodie world would crinkle their nose at me diving head-first (well, not really, but close) into a tub of popcorn slathered in fake butter with a Diet Coke the size of my head sitting next to me. What can I say? I love going to the movies and the popcorn and fountain drink complete the experience!
So what to do when you’re at home and you don’t have movie theater popcorn at the ready? Well, my Chief Culinary Consultant makes a mean bowl of popcorn that I can never seem to duplicate myself. He starts with a bag of light butter microwave popcorn and then performs some type of Harry Potter magic on it with additional butter and salt. It’s phenomenal! And I can never quite get it right ;-) Microwave popcorn has been popular for quite sometime, and I eat it often, but with the increased warnings about it giving off chemicals that will cause cancer (I tried researching to see if this was ever proven, but couldn’t find a definitive answer. Anyone know?), it’s not a bad idea to know how to make the perfect bowl of popcorn right on your stove. Plus, it doesn’t take any longer to make than microwaving a bag of popcorn, believe it or not. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, the flavor possibilities are endless – sweet and savory alike!
Step 1: Gather your materials: heavy-bottomed pot (at least 5 qt.), oil, popping corn, salt (popcorn salt if you have it) and butter (of course!). I recently saw that Orville Redenbacher has a special popcorn oil for, well, popcorn. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have no doubt it’s delicious. Peanut oil would probably be preferred here, but I just use whatever I happen to have in the pantry. Today that was canola oil.
Step 2: Add the oil, salt and popping corn to the pot. Place the pot over medium heat.
Step 3: Give the pot a little shake to make sure all of the kernels are coated with oil, and then put a lid on the pot, leaving it slightly ajar so that steam can escape.
Step 4: Text, Tweet or check your email for a few minutes. The kernels are popping and doing their thing!
Step 5: Once the popping has slowed to an almost stop (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat. (I would also recommend transferring the popcorn to a large serving bowl here as well.)
Step 6: Melt the butter and, while shaking the bowl or stirring with a big spoon, drizzle the melted butter into the popcorn. (You could also put some popcorn in the serving bowl, then drizzle some butter, add more popcorn, then more butter, and so on so that the butter gets evenly distributed.)
Give it another mix. Add more butter or salt if you prefer, and then grab a movie and hit the couch!