Following Shayna and Just Some Guy…
It takes about five to ten minutes to make unbelievably great popcorn. While it may seem crazy to those who default to the microwave, the miniscule effort makes comparing stovetop popcorn to microwave popcorn similar to real maple syrup to Log Cabin. Two completely different galaxies.
Start with a heavy pot if you can, something that will take time to heat up and will retain it once it’s hot – this will keep the oil at a nice, even temperature.
If you want an amazing popcorn experience, especially if you’re over thirty and remember when “movie popcorn” meant something, get yourself some coconut oil. Decide for yourself if it’s a health risk, or just use it occasionally, but use it once and you will be taken to new heights of snackuliciousness.
Shayna is right about using kernels to gauge temperature, but I prefer to wait about thirty seconds or so after they pop to add the rest–this allows for the drop in temperature from the addition of the kernels.
Crack the lid of the pot, enough so the steam can escape. Small step, but easily overlooked – do you really want those freshly popped kernels soaking up moisture?
DO NOT TOUCH THE POT They sell machines with paddles and cranks inside in order to sell more machines. Granted, if you were making an industrial amount of popcorn it might come into play, but for a half cup or so moving the kernels around is not necessary. The popping naturally separates the popped from the unpopped, and ensures things are in the right place. Moving the pot around, while fun, while tradition, pretty much only serves to lose heat. I know it takes a leap of faith to follow such blasphemous advice on an anonymous message board (I could be part of the microwave oven cabal), but try it once and you’ll understand. Just remember that it’s more unforgiving of too little oil and not taking it out of the pot right away, but you’ll have fewer unpopped kernels, and a more consistent pop.
While it’s popping, you should be getting the bowl and your butter ready. Have the butter melted and next to the bowl.
This is where I may go a wee bit over the deep end, but I think the extra minute is worth it. I drop the popped corn in a bowl, then take a spoon and drizzle a bit of butter over the top, add salt, mix well, and repeat until all the butter is used. Perfectly even buttering, perfect salting, and though it looks like it takes a lot more than microwaving, it’s really a minimal effort
And, well, that’s my take on popcorn. If anyone’s seen any of my nachos postings, you’ll know there are a few picayune things I take mightily seriously.