Recently, Kiki posted one of her HYSTERICAL kitchen disasters which included popcorn. I, personally, LOVE popcorn. It was the first thing I ever cooked on my own. It's the only thing I consistently cook well. When I first made it for JD, he was confused as to why I was using the stove because he was only accustomed to the microwave variety. (Surprisingly, this is not the first time I've had this reaction. Many friends along the way have said the same thing.) That, for me, is sacrilege. Microwave popcorn should only be used when showing a movie to a class full of students on a lazy afternoon. All other times, it should be popped on the stove.
And, since I make this about once a week, I guess I'm an expert. ;-)
There are a few keys to making good popcorn. First, I prefer the yellow corn variety because it pops up larger and fluffier than the white kernels. All of those fancy schmancy gourmet popcorns never really produce a good bowl of corn. Make sure to keep your popcorn in an airtight container because it will go stale and then it will not pop. I also always use safflower oil. Coconut oil and olive oil don't have a high enough smoke point to handle the heat needed for making popcorn on the stove top. Safflower oil is a nicer and healthier alternative to corn or canola oil.
I use a large pan with a sturdy handle and a glass lid. I like to be able to see what is happening inside as they cook so I can make adjustments. A heftier pan with a thicker bottom is generally best since it distributes the heat better and there are fewer hot spots (which leads to scalded/burnt corn). I heat the pan on high and add the oil. I don't measure my oil; I just put in enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but there shouldn't be a lake of oil. Don't add the corn until the oil is hot. The longer the corn sits in oil, the less likely it is to pop. Once again, I don't measure the corn. I, again, cover the bottom. I read somewhere once that you should use 2 tablespoons of oil and a cup of corn. (Kik, I've NEVER heard of 2-3 cups of corn. That's A LOT!) I've found that eyeballing it works best. The rule of thumb is that one tablespoon of kernels pops into 2 cups of pop corn.
After the oil is hot, sprinkle in the corn and make sure it is in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Cover it and walk away. Don't mess with it. Wait until the corn pops rapidly. Once it starts to slow a bit, give it a little shake. Once it slows considerably, remove it from the heat because it is done! Have your bowl ready because you don't want your popped kernels to burn in the pan.
I ALWAYS add butter and salt. I melt my butter in the microwave and pour the golden goodness on a little at a time, shaking it to ensure even distribution. Then I add salt. And shake. And more salt.
And then I eat it.
Usually by myself.
Because I don't like to share.