Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Simple Treat

Looking for something simple and delicious to serve your guests this holiday season? Don’t underestimate one of the greatest snack foods—popcorn. I’m not talking about the popcorn that comes in a bag and is coated in weird oils and artificial flavorings that you pop in the microwave; I’m talking about real, beautiful, stove-popped popcorn. A lot of people don’t know how to make popcorn on the stove anymore since microwave popcorn has taken over the market, but it’s so easy that if you make it once and taste it in all it’s simple glory, I bet you will be hooked too. It’s also a healthy alternative to other snack foods (as long you don’t overdo the butter!).

I grew up eating stove-popped popcorn. We would make a big batch for the family and then divide it up into individual bowls to snack on while watching a movie. Popcorn is great because it goes well with so many flavors. My parents would always make it with Mongolian fire oil, while my sisters and I would usually just go for traditional salt and butter. Popcorn also matches well with seasonings like cinnamon and sugar, parmesan cheese, herbs, and basically anything else you are in the mood for.

The recipe is simple. Just take a pot (the more you want to make, the bigger the pot), and pour in some kernels—you want one even layer of kernels to cover the bottom of the pot. Then pour in some vegetable oil. I usually put in just a little, then swirl the pot around and see if I need to add more—you don’t need to overdue the oil, but be sure it coats the bottom of the pot and all of the kernels. Cover the pot and heat it at medium to medium-high heat. Leave it alone until you hear the kernels start to pop. Once they start popping, hold the lid on tight and shake the pot over the burner. Keep shaking occasionally (this keeps the kernels moving and prevents burning) until you hear the popping slow down. Then just take off the lid (watch out for flying popcorn) and season with some salt and pepper and pour a little melted butter over it.*

Stove-popped popcorn is the perfect blend of salt, oil, and crunch that is great to put out anytime you have guests over or when you just want a delicious snack. And it really does taste better than microwave popcorn—I guarantee it.

Watch some beautiful footage of popcorn kernels popping in slow motion here:

*Warning: Be sure to melt the butter before putting it on the popcorn. This may seem obvious, but I once made popcorn with someone and we noticed it tasted a little dry. I suggested we add some butter. He took the popcorn into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later. We kept eating the popcorn, and then I got a huge mouthful of soft, but unmelted, butter. Apparently, he thought you could just put chunks of butter into the popcorn. It was amusing but not particularly appetizing!


  1. I heat the oil before adding the popcorn. Once I left the oil heating and forgot about it and the oil caught on fire. It was not a tragedy although the pot was black and took some elbow grease to clean.

  2. i add sesame seeds to the oil when it's heating!