This is the first of what I imagine to be many posts on Squanto’s gift to the pilgrims. I have learned few skills in my life that are as tangibly satisfying as making popcorn the old-fashioned way, and it has instilled in me an absolute scorn for that lung-destroying microwave garbage. Real popcorn is a fraction of the price. It is just as fast. It tastes WAY better. The only slight disadvantage versus the Jolly Time Styrofoam stuff is that the real thing requires a little more cleanup. But that can wait until after the movie. My method:
1. Get a pot. One with a LID. A standard-sized sauce pan will work for a serving (~1/3 cup unpopped kernels), but you’ll need something larger if you’re feeding a crowd.
2. Put the pot over medium to medium-high heat.
3. Coat the bottom with oil. This doesn’t have to be a super thick layer, but don’t be too stingy. I use – GASP – olive oil. I use it because it makes the popcorn taste awesome. You don’t even have to use butter after it’s popped, though I usually do anyway. I sometimes use vegetable oil if I’m making kettle corn or using other flavoring, and I have grand plans of trying other oils – sesame, peanut, etc. But stay tuned for more on flavoring and oils.
4. Place three test kernels in the oil.
5. When all three have popped, dump in the rest, slap on the lid, and let the magic happen. SHAKE THE PAN REGULARLY. The principle here is the same as microwave – wait until the popping has mostly, but not completely, stopped.
6. Turn off the heat, add in melted butter and salt, put the lid back on, and shake what your momma gave you.
A few notes:
– I happen to have a saucepan with a glass lid which makes monitoring the popping a bit easier. A necessity by no means, but a nice convenience.
– I’m exploring the theory that trapped steam makes the popcorn overly chewy. I haven’t reached a conclusion yet, but if you want to experiment at home, just tilt the lid.
– Don’t be discouraged if it burns the first time or two. You just need to get the feel of your pan and your burners and you’ll be making perfect corn in no time.