Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How-To: Popcorn

I enjoy popcorn every once in a blue moon and lately I've been having a craving.  However, with the recently exposed dangers of bag popcorn, and the inconvenience of owning (and storing) yet another kitchen gadget, I went hunting for an old-fashioned style cooking method.

The basic ratio of popcorn to oil is 1/2 cup kernels to 3 tablespoons oil in a 3-quart saucepan and it makes a little over two servings total.  I actually found that the 3-quart pan saucepan wasn't large enough and next time I will either cut back on the amount of popcorn I'm making or get a bigger pan.

First thing's first, you're going to need a 3-quart saucepan with a lid (lid not pictured!):

And you'll need some oil, popcorn kernels and salt:

I used peanut oil but canola would work just as well.  I'm not sure that olive oil would work very well for this because of it's relatively low smoke point.  High quality extra virgin olive oils may or may not have a higher smoke point, but I'd rather not risk it and end up with some burnt oil flavored popcorn. Yuck.

Next, put the oil and a couple of kernels into the pot and heat them over medium-high heat:

 Leave the lid to the pot slightly ajar so that steam can escape from the popcorn.  Once you hear your few little kernels pop, remove the pot from the heat and pour the remaining kernels in an even layer.  Allow the pot to remain off the heat for 30 seconds.  This allows the kernels to reach the same temperature in roughly the same amount of time and prevents having many unpopped kernels.  After 30 seconds is up, place the pot back on medium high heat and cover with the lid, remembering to leave the lid slightly ajar. 

Once the popping has slowed, turn the heat off and remove the lid.  Add salt and butter to taste.