- Popcorn made in a pot on the stove is not really any less healthy than microwave bags when you start counting fat and looking at the ingredients list.
- Popcorn made in a pot on the stove takes about the same time (start-to-finish) as the microwave variety and is nearly as easy.
- Microwave popcorn always seems to have a chemical aftertaste--even the varieties without artificial butter flavor.
- Regular bulk popcorn kernels are cheaper by volume.
- And I swear, it's easier to burn microwave popcorn than the real stuff, even when you follow the directions on the package to the letter. If you've ever worked in an office and a co-worker burnt a bag, you probably know this and you also know how long the stench sticks around!
So how is it done? I thought you'd never ask!
Homemade Stove-Top Popcorn
A Word on Choosing a Pot...
Probably the most important part of this recipe is choosing the right pot. You need something with a single saucepan-style handle and a lid with a stay-cool handle on the top, somewhere in the 4 to 5 quart range. It should be made of metal and be light-weight enough to pick-up and shake. A heavy bottom is preferable, but your cast-iron cookware or fancy Le Creuset pot would NOT be a good choice here.
1) Pour enough vegetable oil into the pot to coat just the bottom. If there's more than 1/8-inch of oil, you've put too much.
2) Place exactly THREE popcorn kernels into the oil, cover the pot, and shake it to coat the kernels. Make sure the remaining kernels are nearby, as well as your largest serving/mixing bowl.
3) Place the covered pot onto the stove and crank the temperature to medium-high. Periodically shake the pot to toss the kernels until all three of them pop. This is how you'll know the oil is at the correct temperature.
4) Immediately after the last kernel pops, remove the lid and pour in enough additional kernels to cover the bottom of the pot in one layer. Quickly replace the lid and shake the kernels to coat in oil.
5) As soon as the new kernels start to pop, shake the pan vigorously every few seconds to make sure the unpopped kernels move to the bottom and the fluffy white ones move up and out of the oil. This prevents burning. Continue to shake-and-cook, shake-and-cook, until the popping begins to slow-down.
6) Remove the pan from the hot burner as soon as the popping has slowed significantly but do not wait until it has completely stopped popping. It's better to end-up with un-popped kernels than to burn your entire batch.
7) Once the popping has subsided, remove the cover and pour the popcorn into the waiting bowl.
8) Using the residual heat from the pan (or the microwave if you're more comfortable), melt 2 to 3 tablespoons of real butter. After all, if you're going to do the work, you might as well do it up right. Drizzle the butter over the top of the popcorn and toss with your hands to coat all the popped kernels. Add salt to taste, tossing again to coat.
9) Consume the entire bowl yourself or share with family if you must. If you feel the need to pop ahead, it can be stored once cool in zip-top bags and will keep a day or two.