Friday, January 3, 2014

Perfect Buttered Popcorn

This weather is enough to depress the heartiest of souls. With the torrential rain, howling winds and icy temps, I suspect there is many a "duvet day" going on around the country.   I know personally we've found ourselves curled up with Netflix, a fire and a big fat bowl of buttered popcorn much more often than would be normal.

Popcorn in Ireland is one of the reasons I rarely go to the cinema. Because well, quite frankly the popcorn sucks and considering you have to take out a second mortgage to even get enough for the whole family, that's just not on.  Not to say that the popcorn in America is any better.  I mean, it is, it's delicious - they ask if you want butter. The most ridiculous question ever. OF COURSE I want butter, LOTS of butter.  And then they go pump hot butter all over your popcorn.  Sometimes you get an especially good popcorn server, who'll fill it half way, butter then repeat.  BLISS!  Now I'm under no delusions that this is real butter and not some butter flavoured soybean oil derivative, but whatever, it's delicious and it makes the movie experience for me.  Here the popcorn is dry and over salted. Blergh.  
Maybe you buy microwave popcorn?  Well, it's slightly more flavourful than it's Irish cinema cousin, but have you read the ingredients!?  And the price of the stuff is insane. A year or two into our Irish adventure I knew I had to figure out the popcorn situation.  I seemed to always burn the microwave stuff (I never get along with microwaves) so I experimented for awhile with air poppers and pots and pans and woks and butters and salts and oils and combinations thereof until I finally managed to figure out the perfect formula! 

So here you go... I recommend eating it with a two litre of diet coke to cancel out the copious amounts of saturated fat.  Ok not really, but we can pretend right!? 

You will need:
  • 1 large stock pot with a lid
  • 1.5 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels*
  • 8oz butter
  • Table salt
  • Tongs
  • A big bowl or three!
  • Napkins or paper towels!!!
First things first, get your stock pot on the highest stove setting. If you have a gas stove, do the butter first, if electric, get your pot on.

While it starts to heat up, put your butter in a microwavable container and melt it on a low to medium heat. Do not let it bubble. Once it's fully melted, immediately remove and pop in freezer.  Yes, you heard me right. Don't ask questions, just do it! We're working on a tight schedule here peeps!!

When the pot is pretty hot add the oil and four kernels of popcorn.  No I haven't lost it, there's a method to my madness.  Put the lid on and wait until you hear four pops.  When all four kernels pop you know it is hot enough to pop the rest. 

Toss in the popcorn and put the lid on. Using a tea towel if the pot handles are hot, swirl it around gently every ten seconds or so, to ensure all the kernels keep moving and are coated in oil. Continue swirling as it pops. When the pops slow down to where there's more than 4-5 seconds between pops, remove from heat. Do not remove lid. 

Get butter out of the freezer. You will notice it's separated, congratulations you have just made clarified butter! Cold clarified butter gives the popcorn all of the flavour with none of the sogginess! At this point you can pour off the liquid gold and leave the solids in the bottom, or if you're lazy like me you just be careful not to get any of the solids on your popcorn.

Pour half the popcorn into your bowl and drizzle butter all over it. Toss with tongs as you pour to ensure even coating.  Sprinkle with salt and toss again.  Repeat with remaining half. 

Serve with plenty of napkins to go around! 

*I like the Kelkin brand. Do not buy the cheap stuff at the Asian shops, I made that mistake once and it's awful, doesn't pop right at all!

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