About five years ago, I took a chance and made popcorn in my own soup pot on a gas stove; you see, I was trimming the budget, and a bag of loose kernels is much cheaper than 24 bags of the microwave stuff (that’s an equivalent amount of popped corn).
And it couldn’t be simpler.
In your big soup pot (the lighter weight the better, if you have a choice), pour in cooking oil to cover the bottom of the pot, perhaps 1/8 inch. Dump in about half a cup of popcorn kernels and maybe 2 tablespoons of salt.
Then the secret: snap the lid on tight and don’t you dare open it up again until the popcorn has all popped.
Gently slide the pot back and forth over high heat. Don’t worry, be patient. You will definitely know when the action is heating up. You’ll hear the sizzle of the oil just a second or two before the first kernels pop. And they will pop up and hit the lid. Don’t be scared…and don’t you dare open the lid. Not only will you let out the heat and steam necessary to pop the corn, but you may lose an eye.
Keep sliding the pot back and forth as you hear the popping speed up. But listen carefully for the first signs of the slow down. When you can hear only one kernel at a time pop, it’s time to take the pot of the heat entirely.
Lift the lid carefully. You may get to enjoy the surprise of a few more kernels popping up and out of the top layer, which is a special delight for kids if you’ve got them helping with this!
Transfer the popcorn into a large bowl to let it cool off.
Now, if you’ve used a good quality cooking oil, you will not need any flavoring. But…if you must, melt a whole stick of butter in the microwave and pour it over the popcorn; stir immediately but gently.
Other seasonings, which I recommend you add prior to popping:
- 1/2 sugar or Splenda for sweet kettle corn
- cayenne and chili powder for spicy
- cumin for smokey
- curry and sesame oil for earthy
Oh, and if you are on Weight Watchers and enjoy your 5 cups of 97% fat free microwave popcorn, just imagine what it’d be like to have delicately butter-flavored popcorn (same 5 cups) for 2 points…and feel so much more decadent!