Monday, February 15, 2010

Popcorn 101

I can now say I'm able to teach Popcorn 101 because I've just passed Popcorn 101. I came across a fantastic, step-by-step, FAIL PROOF recipe for popping up some homemade popcorn. I started making my own after I heard that microwaved popcorn is bad for you. Sigh, another food to add to the "Don't eat this unless you want to damage yourself" list. Why? Because "Microwaving can cause the chemicals in the lining of the bag, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), to vaporize and leach into your popcorn." To read more about it check out this article.
Just give me some popcorn. Leave the PFOA crap out, thanks.

I picked up some yellow and white popping corn from Good Earth. I'm in love with their bulk section. I can get as few or as many corn kernels as I want. For a single serving, I've found that 2 tablespoons is perfect. Popcorn 101 is how to pop popcorn without burning and popping as many kernels as possible. I only had one unpopped kernel in this batch. Yippie! I'm working on Popcorn 102 - getting the flavorings to stick to the popcorn without drowning them in butter. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Perfect Popcorn Recipe

3 Tbsp canola, peanut or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
1 3-quart covered saucepan
2 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter
Salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.
2. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
3. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
4. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop and nothing burns.
5. If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.
6. Salt to taste.
Makes 2 quarts, a nice amount for two people, or for one hungry one.
Additional tips:
- If you add salt to the oil in the pan before popping, when the popcorn pops, the salt will be well distributed throughout the popcorn.
- Fun toppings for the popcorn - Spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, chili pepper, curry powder, cumin, grated Parmesan cheese.

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