Thursday night is yoga night for me and movie night for the kids. It’s morphed into a popcorn and smoothie supper night, which I like. Easy. Although I usually eat a heartier supper after the kids go to bed. Because I can.
Let’s talk popcorn today, shall we? Specifically, popcorn on the stove.
Making popcorn is supposed to be super easy, like making beans. When you make beans, you basically put them in a pot with water and cook them until they’re done. Super easy, right? Well it seems so, but it’s not. I think it took me four or five years to figure out how to cook beans well. My trick after years of trial and error? I put them in a pot with water and cook them until they’re done.
Same thing with popcorn.
We don’t have a microwave. (I just can’t bear to allow something to take that much of my precious little counter space. Also, I confess to paranoia that we will eventually find that microwaves are, indeed, killing us.) So no packets of popcorn, no putting plain popcorn in a paper bag and making your own packets with grand DIY style.
To make popcorn on the stove, all you do is put some oil in the bottom of a hot pan, pour in some kernels, give the pan a shake, and let them pop until there are a few seconds in between pops. Easy peasy.
After many burnt batches, batches with more kernels unpopped than popped, and hours scrubbing off oil that had burned to the bottom of the pan, I’ve kind of figured out something that works and I thought I’d share how I make popcorn.
I put oil in a hot pan, pour in some kernels, give the pan a shake, and let them pop.
First, the pan. No heavy bottomed pan for me – the oil is either not hot enough to pop the kernels or it pops the kernels and burns onto the pan. My trusty cast-iron skillet is The Bomb. No scrubbing, good heat. I can’t wait until I finally get the cast iron dutch oven I’ve got my eye on. It will be The Triple Bomb.
Second, the oil. I use canola. I’ve tried coconut oil and grapeseed oil (both of which came highly recommended on the healthy side of the internets), but both smoke a great deal for me.
Also about the oil, no healthful oil skimping allowed. (Oh. My. Goodness. I just typed “aloud” instead of “allowed” and couldn’t figure out why it looked wrong). My unscientific observation is that more of the kernels pop when there is more oil. You need a down right oil slick across the bottom of the pan.
Third, the kernels. Put a couple in and wait until they pop and then add enough kernels to not really cover the bottom of the pan. Give them a stir to coat them in your generous amount of oil. (We’re not talking Paula Deen generous here, we’re talking my kind of generous). Put on the lid (and crack it to let out some steam) and wait for them to pop. You’ll have to figure out your own heat — my wimpy stove and mighty cast iron do well with the heat just a bit above medium.
Fourth, the crisping. The popcorn comes off the stove a bit…not crispy. I dump it into a 9×13 pyrex casserole dish and then season it right away. My theory is that the moisture from the steam will help the seasonings to stick without adding more oil or butter. It kinda works. I usually season with salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Sometimes we add dill. Pop the pan into a 325 degree oven for one minute (set the timer!). It crisps right up!