How to make movie theater popcorn

I remember occasionally buying popcorn at the movies when I was a child. It was absolutely delicious. This was before the food police started telling everyone that the secret of its amazing taste, coconut oil and real butter, was bad for your health, and the movie theaters abandoned its use so that now it tastes no better than microwave popcorn.

Fortunately, it is possible to obtain that great taste by making popcorn at home from scratch, yes, directly from the kernels. With the advent of microwave popcorn, popping popcorn in a pan is becoming a bit of a lost art. But it's honestly not difficult; it just takes a bit of practice.

As a bonus, people are rediscovering coconut oil and real butter and finding out that both are actually very good for your health (as long as you're not allergic to them), so now you can enjoy movie theater quality popcorn guilt free in the comfort of your own home.

Materials and ingredients

You will need a six quart dutch oven style stainless steel pan with a lid (if using a smaller pan, simply adjust the recipe to not overfill it), a stove that has a range with a wide variety of temperature settings (you will need to make fine adjustments to get just the right popcorn popping temperature), a paper bag (the kind you get at grocery stores), and individual bowls used for serving.

You will also need one cup of popcorn, one fourth cup (or more) of coconut oil, one fourth cup (or more) of butter, and a shaker of sea salt.

Step 1: Heat up the oil

The biggest issue people encounter with trying to pop popcorn kernels is that they don't pop but instead burn. This is caused by putting them into oil that is too cold. It is very important to make sure the oil is very hot before adding the kernels.

Put the pan on the stove. You want it on a large (not small) heating element. Set the heat to medium or medium high (you may need to adjust this setting based on how your first batches turn out). Add the coconut oil and let it warm up. Do not put the lid on the pan, as this could cause the oil to burn and start a pan fire. The oil is ready when it starts to give off steam.

Step 2: Add the kernels

While the oil is heating up, measure out a cup of kernels. Once the oil is giving off a good amount of steam, add the kernels. This should cause the oil to sizzle around them. Immediately put the lid on the pan and give the pan a good shake to spread out the kernels on the bottom. They should start popping within a half minute or less. If they don't start popping almost immediately, most likely the oil was not hot enough.

Step 3: Shake and listen

As soon as the kernels start popping, vigorously slide the pan from side to side to keep the remaining kernels moving in the oil. You want to do this almost constantly, but short pauses are OK. The kernels should pop quite rapidly. Briefly lift the lid just a crack every so often as kernels seem to pop better when they have plenty of air.

Listen to the rhythm of the kernels popping. As long as they are popping rapidly, keep shaking the pan, occasionally cracking the lid, and keep the stove turned on.

Once the popping slows down, your batch is almost done. Turn off the stove and give the pan a few more side to side shakes. You will want to strike the best balance between getting as many kernels popped as possible without burning the ones that have already popped. The only way to perfect this technique is through experience and practice. As you can tell, this is not an exact science.

Step 4: Add the butter and salt

Once you are satisfied that your batch is done, open up the paper bag and pour the popcorn into it from the pan. Be careful as the pan is very hot.

Put the pan back on the stove and add the butter. The heat of the pan will almost instantly melt the butter.

Pour the butter over the popcorn in the bag. Keep the butter mostly in the middle so as not to waste it by getting it on the sides of the bag.

Use the shaker to add salt to the bag. Hold the bag closed and shake vigorously to mix the butter and salt into the popcorn. If this is your first time, add a little salt, shake it up, then taste to see if you need to add more, then repeat if necessary. Eventually you will get a feel for how much salt to add right at the beginning.

Step 5: Serve and enjoy

The popcorn can be served directly from the paper bag or it can be poured into a large bowl. Either way, serve up some portions in individual bowls and enjoy. Since popcorn, being salty, tends to make one thirsty, it's a great idea to serve with a nice cold drink such as home made lemonade.


Food | Cooking | Recipes

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