Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stovetop Popcorn (with pictures!)

In the modern age of microwaves some of us (myself being big time included in the "us") have lost out on the decadence of stovetop popcorn. It's so easy it made me wonder why I've never done it before. Air poppers for the microwave are cheap, so why shouldn't I buy one? Because I have nowhere to put it! I love the stovetop method because it uses equipment I already have on hand. Seriously, my kitchen at the house (we moved here just 3 months ago) is way bigger than my apartment kitchen was in Virginia. Still the cabinet space is limited and I have no official pantry, so I use a chunk of my cabinet space for food storage.

And then there's the price issue. A 6-pack box of microwave popcorn bought on sale with a Q costs me about $2. With my on-again-off-again obsession with popcorn I have been known to spend upwards of $4 for a 6-pack box. The shame! My husband and I generally share a bag of nuked popcorn and therefore a $2 box last through 6 snacky servings. A big bag of kernels cost me $2 and a bottle of canola oil cost me about $4. To pop up the entire bag of kernels I will probably use (and I'm being generous here) half the bottle of oil, so $2 worth. However, with my bagged kernels and canola oil I will easily get 4xs as much popcorn than from a 6-pack box (this time I'm being generous to the microwavable popcorn).

Finally, and most importantly, there is the issue of taste. My husband is the one who described the stovetop popcorn as decadent. Decadent being used to describe popcorn means I should sit up and really listen! And if it's not enough with just butter and salt, you can alter the flavor more with seasonings. I intend to do my research and try some out. I've heard of thyme, garlic salt, seasoning salt, brown sugar and several other seasonings being used in one way or another -- though not all at once. And don't forget: Popcorn is a whole grain once it is popped!!

I think the biggest show-stopper for people is the TIME issue. My popcorn took me 8 minutes to make. This is obviously much longer than microwaved popcorn which takes me 90 seconds. Please don't let 6 1/2 minutes stop you from trying this! It is well worth the wait.

And, really, with DVR who doesn't have 6 1/2 minutes for fresh popcorn.

  • 3 quart pot with lid
  • 2 T oil (I used canola!)
  • 3 popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 C popcorn kernels
Optional Supplies:
  • 1/4 C butter, melted and cooled -- My family does not consider this optional, but you may. There are alternatives, such as a butter/EVOO blends sold in stores.**
  • Salt -- My favorite part about making popcorn on the stovetop was the ability to control how much salt went into it. We used only about 1/2 teaspoon, if that much.
How I made it:
  1. In 3 quart pot add oil and 3 kernels. Turn range to med-high heat, place lid on pot and wait for one of the kernels to pop. This takes about 3 minutes.
  2. After first kernel pops, remove lid and add full 1/3 C of kernels. Place lid back on pot and shake gently over heat until popping stops.
  3. When popping stops, turn off range and *carefully* remove the lid. There's a nice ball of hot steam waiting to get out and you don't want to be in its way.
  4. Optional: Pour on butter, sprinkle salt, replace lid and shake around a bit to evenly distribute. Melt your butter at the beginning of the process to allow it some time to cool before pouring over your popcorn.
  5. Enjoy!

**If you're sneaky like me, you will slowly cut this back until the family notices and says something to you about it. Start by taking away just 1 teaspoon of the butter. Then another and another. When someone finally says something, add back 1 teaspoon and carry on with your now-less-buttery-but-still-buttery-enough decadent treat!

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