Tuesday, January 22, 2013

pop secret

Popcorn popped on the stove top is one of my favourite cold weather snacks and I've been mean to post about this for awhile.    After sharing bowl recently my friends Julie and Jilanna suggested I get on that.  This isn't really a recipe as much as a technique.  I can't remember where I heard about it originally but needless to say I can't take credit for thinking this up, I'm just passing it on as it gives a great flavour with minimal unpopped kernels.

What you need:
  • Large, heavy pot - I use one with a glass lid to keep an eye on the progress
  • Approx. 3 tbsps of oil - vegetable oil works, I prefer olive or occasionally coconut oil (just be aware that different oils have different smoke points so be sure to keep an eye on the heat)
  • 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels - I don't actually get very precious about this - no-name popcorn kernels seem to work for me!
  • salt
What you do:

Coat the bottom of the pot with oil and place on a burner over medium heat.  Scatter three kernels on the bottom of the pot and cover.  These are your test kernels that will let you know when the oil is at a good temperature.  Now we wait.

Once all three kernels have popped (keep an eye out, if there's a straggler and the other two look in danger of burning move on) move the pot off the heat and add all the kernels in a single layer.  Cover and count to thirty before returning to the heat.  This seems to be the key step in getting all the kernels to a consistent temperature and ensuring maximum "poppage" (which is obviously a real word).

Note: If you plan to season with table, kosher or sea salt, this is actually a great time to add it.  That way as the popcorn pops, the salt is distributed throughout.  I don't do this with blended salts though (i.e. black truffle, lavender, herbed) as the blended ingredients can burn in the hot oil.

Return the pot to the heat gently shaking it back and forth over the burner to avoid burning the kernels.  Once the popping starts, I like to keep the lid slightly ajar (not too wide or you'll have popcorn all over the place).  This helps the steam escape and will give a nice crispness to the popcorn.  Once it has slowed to a few seconds between the pops remove it from the heat.  Dump it in the bowl, season and enjoy!  

Because this is popped in oil, drizzling melted butter seems a little like gilding the lily.  So rather uncharacteristically I recommend you skip the butter!  

And that it's it. Not only does it taste a million times better than microwave popcorn, it's cheaper and not laden down with artificial flavours and preservatives.  Simple and delicious.

No comments: