A short recipe
(at the request of a friend)
Uncle Sam's Perfect Popcorn
Popcorn (real popcorn, not that fatty, salty, crappy microwave junk) is a tradition in my family. All you need to make it is a pan with a lid, oil, salt, and popcorn (butter/margarine optional, see below)
1. If you've never made stove-top popcorn before, choose your pan first. It should be a medium saucepan (I use a 3 qt ) with a fairly substantial bottom (eg. not a cheap pot) to spread the heat more evenly. It NEEDS to have a well-fitting lid.
2. Measure your popcorn. The appropriate amount of popcorn kernels is enough to cover the bottom of your chosen pan with one full layer of kernels, more or less. This usually works out between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of kernels, but YMMV, so check for yourself by pouring kernels into the clean, dry, cool pan to measure, and then pour the measured bit back out into a measuring cup or some other such device, so you know how much popcorn your pan will make.
3. Now you're ready. Put the pan on the burner and add enough oil to cover the bottom with a thin layer (1/8 inch?) Eyeball it. Put 3-5 kernels of popcorn into the pan. When they start popping, you're in business. Set the stove to medium to medium high. This is important because you'll get nothing but burned kernels if the oil is too hot.
4. Let the oil heat until the test kernels begin to pop (watch out, they fly!), then add the rest of the kernels you measured out and put the lid on. Shake the pan horizontally to distribute the kernels evenly across the bottom of the pan. Popping will commence shortly. Keep shaking intermittently
5. When the lid begins to raise off the pan and popping slows, dump the contents into a large bowl. Add salt liberally. If butter is desired, melt in warm pan and pour over kernels.
I prefer plain popcorn with a little salt. Using corn oil enhances the popcorn's natural flavor, and a little salt really kicks it up. Of course, shaking on spices or even a little black pepper is good too, depending on your tastes. Colored kernels are also fun, and not much more expensive than plain white or yellow.