Sometime during my college years, the smell of cheap microwave popcorn started to make me feel sick. It might have had something to do with reports about workers in the factories where that popcorn is processed getting cancer from the fumes.
At any rate, I switched to Newman’s Own organic popcorn, and was happy as a clam for years, even though I was paying some serious $$ for all that convenient yumminess. And although it was good and definitely had no chemical smell factor, it wasn’t exactly movie theater quality popcorn.
Enter Ye Olde Recession, and one night I decided to try, just for fun, Mark Bittman’s stove-top popcorn recipe. I kid you not: it only took one time to convert me. It IS that delicious.
We are now certifiable popcorn maniacs, making it almost every night as soon as the kids are in bed. And we can afford to: each batch costs less than 50 cents, contains no artificial anything, and all the ingredients can easily be found locally. Perfect! Here’s the recipe (adapted from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, our cooking bible). I’ve reduced the amount of butter to make it a bit more healthful.
2 T. oil (something that can handle some heat, like canola, sunflower or grapeseed. If you prefer olive oil, lower the heat.)
1/2 c. popcorn
1-2 T. butter, or to taste, melted
salt AND pepper (optional)
Put the oil and 3 kernels of corn in a kettle or large pot or something on the stove, over med. heat. Cover. When all 3 kernels have popped, you are ready to add the rest. Put the cover just slightly ajar so that some steam can escape. Occasionally lift up kettle and give it a shake. When the popping stops, pour into a bowl, stir in the butter, and shake on some salt and pepper. I really really like freshly ground black pepper on my popcorn, but that’s up to you.
This whole process takes about 10 minutes, so only about 6 minutes longer than microwave, and so, so worth it. 2-3 generous servings.
Update, July 6, 2011: Here’s how to make an updated version of cheese popcorn using this recipe.