Kristi's Favorite Way to Pop Popcorn
Having any popcorn recipe come out well starts with having light fluffy popcorn with very few old maids to spoil the snacking experience. My friend Kelly actually makes the best popcorn of anyone I know. We beg her to make it and sneak it into movie theaters for us. According to Kelly, the key is to have the right pan. I don't disagree. It's definitely an important part of the process. It's that whole right tool for the right job. I like a heavy dutch oven. It has handles and a thick enough bottom so you can get that oil really really hot.
I coat the bottom of the pan with 1/4 cup of oil. The next question is, of course, which oil? I like to experiment a little. It's a fun way to add some subtle flavor to your popcorn. I've used olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, flavored oils. They all work. Experiment and find out what you like best. I think coconut oil gives the most neutral result so it can be a good choice if you're going to then use the popcorn to make caramel corn or some other flavored treat. I also like to stir some salt into the oil. I like a lot of salt and it's a good base.
How do you know if your oil is hot enough? I toss in a few kernels when I start heating the oil. When those pop, I know the oil is hot enough. Slide the pot off the heat, add in 1/3 cup of kernels, shake them around, then put the pot back on the heat. I often add some butter at this point. It ends up coating the popped corn and giving you that great buttery flavor without breaking the calorie bank. The popping will start soon. Keep shaking the pot (those handles are super helpful!) until the popping slows. Slide the pot off the heat, but don't take the top off. The kernels will continue to pop for a minute, but this way you won't burn the popcorn at the bottom of the pan.
Once there's no more popping, turn it all out in a bowl and enjoy!