Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Best Popcorn You've Ever Had, Outside of a Movie Theatre

You know when you get that craving for movie theatre popcorn, and you go to the movies, even though it's a movie you didn't really want to see, and some stranger sits behind you and kicks your seat the whole time while they chomp down their popcorn and you leave just wishing you could get the flavor of homemade popcorn at home without having to drop a bunch of money to have a stranger bug you during your whole popcorn experience...and the popcorn tastes nothing like you remember having as a kid?

No?  That doesn't happen to you.  Me either... Anymore anyway. 

I love popcorn, so much that I can actually eat it instead of a meal.  Lately though, I've been a bit freaked out by it.  Microwave popcorn was leaving a weird taste in my mouth.  When the dog begged for it, he'd spit it out...he doesn't spit anything out!  I decided to eliminate my microwave all together (for many reasons, counter space being the main one of them, but additional health benefits have followed). 

So, I was really really missing out on my popcorn.  While visiting The Driftless Depot Market & Deli I picked up a bag of local organic popcorn, and thought meh, what the heck.  I brought it home and put it in the cabinet for quite some time...until that popcorn craving hit. 

I thought it would be so much work to make my own popcorn on the stove, so I was dreading this, and imagining the worst... What if I burned all of it and my house smelled for days.  What if it overflows the pan, what if it tastes bad...I decided to persevere, as there was not a movie I wanted to see playing  in town. 

I pulled out the bag and read the directions.  It said for best results to use organic coconut oil..."Really?"  Well, as luck would have it I had some.

 I plopped 3 tablespoons (ish) into the bottom of my wok (hoping it was the appropriate pan and not too thin/thick/shallow) and put in some test kernels.

Once they popped I added the called for 1/3 amount of popcorn and some salt.  I put the lid back on and kind of freaked out for a second...nothing was happening.  Then, all at once pop, pop, pop faster and faster.  I picked up the pan, shook it and set it back down and did this over and over again until there were fewer and fewer pop pop pops.  Less than one every 3 seconds.  I couldn't take a picture while I did this, but trust me, it's going to be fine.

Then I tasted it.  It was heavenly, just like the movie theatre from my childhood.  I didn't even need butter, the salt I had put in the oil had dispersed evenly throughout the popcorn adding just enough flavor.  I dumped it into a big bowl and (while I didn't need it) warmed up some butter in my still-hot pan to add a touch more flavor.  Once the butter melted I put the popcorn back in the pan an shook it around, which coated all the popped kernels evenly.  I was hooked.  Oh, and by the way...the true test...the dog loves it :). 

I've read that movie theatres used to use coconut oil back in the day, but then in the 1980s, someone decided it was really bad for us, and they had it pulled from all the theatres.  Some theatres allegedly then instead used schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) instead.  I have no sources on this as most of what I've found has been on internet forums, so if you can confirm or deny, that would be great. 

Here's a link to an article that discusses the chemicals in microwavable popcorn and how it can actually make you sick.  

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