Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

weinoo

Popcorn...Revisited

Recommended Posts

Since I just popped up a batch of corn, I decided I needed to revisit the subject of popcorn. Yeah, yeah, I know there are a bunch of old threads about popcorn, but it's mid-2013 and I want the latest and greatest.

My method is probably as old as the hills...I use 1-2T of oil (in this case, grapeseed, which I like because of its high smoke point), put a few kernels in and as soon as the first kernel pops, I add the rest of the corn (enough to almost cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer). I then cover and shake frequently, until the corn starts really popping. At this point, I lower the heat, adjust the cover so that it's slightly ajar (for the steam to escape) and let it happily pop away. I turn off the heat as soon as the popping almost completely stops .

Today I sprinkled some smoked paprika on the corn when I added it to the pan and salted it lightly when it was done. It's damn good, but I want more - and I really don't want to load on the butter or salt.

So, do you use the same method?

What brands of corn do you like? I'm partial to Orville's; the others I've tried just aren't as good. Goya, Jiffy-Pop and even stuff from the farmer's market aren't as light and fluffy and they don't pop as completely as Orville's.

And any brilliant ideas for seasoning?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot, and put in 5 kernels - one in each of the cardinal directions, and one in the center. Once they've popped, I add enough corn to cover the bottom of the pot, lid up, and (with my oven gloves on because the handles of my pot get HOT) I keep the burner on high flame, pick up the pot, and keep everything in a swirling motion until it stops popping. The trick for me is that the pot never rests directly on the flame - it gets swirled over it at a height of about 1/2." Fluffy and perfect every single time, and I never burn the corn.

I use locally grown heirloom popping corn - no brand, but I look for the oldest granny I can find because their corn is generally very well cared for and fairly fresh (as far as canguil corn goes, of course).

As for seasoning, I'm very partial to dill, oregano, and garlic powder tossed lightly with the corn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of seasonings I am partial to furikake (ebi is my go-to). I also like it tossed with a grated or shaved Pecorino/Romano/Parm blend.

I somehow cracked my flea market Catamount laboratory grade glass microwave popper and discovered that the simple Pyrex bowl and lid (lid oh so slightly ajar) works perfectly. It's my no-brainer, no dishes to wash, late night snack of choice.

I generally buy my kernels from Whole foods at $1.49/lb in the bulk bins and have been getting a good popping percentage.

015.JPG

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still using my wok at home for popcorn.

I've been trying different types of salt on it and have also experimented with making flavored butter toppings. Nothing perfected enough yet to post about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I somehow cracked my flea market Catamount laboratory grade glass microwave popper and discovered that the simple Pyrex bowl and lid (lid oh so slightly ajar) works perfectly. It's my no-brainer, no dishes to wash, late night snack of choice.

This seems good. How long do you microwave--til it stops popping?

Had this amazing kettle corn in RI this summer--salt and sugar, very light. Addictive.


Edited by heidih Fix quote tags (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Janeer - I do 2 and a half minutes - seems to work well. Not saying there are unpopped guys, but works for me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do pretty much the same as weinoo. In a pan over med high heat, modest amount of oil (I use corn oil, but I would use grapeseed if I had any) a couple of test kernels. In the beginning I do shake a bit to make sure all the oil is distributed, but I find I don't need to shake after that, since anything that pops goes up and unpopped kernels remain at the bottom near the heat. I don't allow any escape valve and put on a tight lid. The organic multi-color popcorn which my local market sells in bulk pops up well. In the last few years I have completely conditioned myself away from butter topping and usually use just a little gray salt and sometimes a little pecorino.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've taken to putting an upside down colander over the pot instead of a lid. I've found that letting the steam escape leads to a crunchier popcorn instead of the slightly chewy popcorn I got before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've taken to putting an upside down colander over the pot instead of a lid. I've found that letting the steam escape leads to a crunchier popcorn instead of the slightly chewy popcorn I got before.

I have a vented lid that I keep vented and it does make for a crisper kernel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I somehow cracked my flea market Catamount laboratory grade glass microwave popper and discovered that the simple Pyrex bowl and lid (lid oh so slightly ajar) works perfectly. It's my no-brainer, no dishes to wash, late night snack of choice.

Good idea! I have a dish that's almost identical and will try using it to make microwave popcorn. Toots and I don't care for a lot of oils and salt, so making the popcorn at home is a good option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've taken to putting an upside down colander over the pot instead of a lid. I've found that letting the steam escape leads to a crunchier popcorn instead of the slightly chewy popcorn I got before.

I have a vented lid that I keep vented and it does make for a crisper kernel

I didn't know this about vented lids. Thanks for the tip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of seasonings I am partial to furikake (ebi is my go-to). I also like it tossed with a grated or shaved Pecorino/Romano/Parm blend

The furikake sounds interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My trusty 4" deep cast iron skillet is what I've always used. And make it pretty much the way others here do EXCEPT that I mix my seasonings (salt & whatever else - often cheese, sometimes herbs or spices) into the fat (I use either Duck Fat or Schmaltz plus a little Butter) just before or with the corn, after the one test kernel pops.

I just got this recently when we were in the process of buying the Big Green Egg for my husband. It was so cute I just couldn't pass it up:

image.jpg

I found it available on Amazon: Amazon Link

It made just the right amount for the two of us with my tried & true method. The popped corn was as good as we've ever had. And the porcelain coating makes it easy to wash up...certainly easier than the cast iron, which is way heavier than this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting that you use cast iron. I would think that by the time the cast iron heats up enough to start popping, you could already be eating your popped corn if you used another type of pan.

Do the seasonings really work as well when they're mixed into the fat vs. sprinkled over the top of the popped corn?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One you pop popcorn with duck fat, you're ruined for anything else.

My favorite topping is a 70/40 mix of smoked paprika and calabrian chile powder and salt. Adjust ratio as desired.

Also working on an nduja popcorn, but it seems to burn before the popcorn is popped...so it needs work.


Edited by jmolinari (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been using a microwave popper from Nordicware, about $8 at Target. Works very well with our without oil, but I usually use about teaspoon of ghee for flavor and to get the salt to stick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used an air popper recently, not sure I will continue, lots of unpopped kernels, but it was an older batch, we'll see what happens with a new one. Otherwise big pot with a bit of oil. I add melted butter and salt and nutritional yeast to mine. Smoked paprika sometimes too. Like the idea of cheese, will do that next time. I don't make it too often, mostly a watching a movie with the kids thing when the weather isn't all that nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as toppings, for interesting changes of pace I've used zaatar and gram marsala. The zaatar gave a lemony herbal note and the gram Marsala gave a nice warmth. It was a good mix. My wife like a proprietary BBQ rub from the Dizzy Pig Team called Pineapple Head. Sweet and spicy with a bit of what I would think would be allspice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ha, never thought of using my Dizzy Pig collection, thanks for the idea!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use an old, crappy light-weight flat-bottomed pot that doesn't hold heat. I add kernels to fill a full layer at the bottom of the pot and add vegetable oil to get the kernels coated and viscous.

I put the lid on with a gap to let out steam, turn the heat to medium high and let it do its business.

I used to shake until I tried not shaking and found that I got a better result.

I'm partial to seasoning it with brewer's yeast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting that you use cast iron. I would think that by the time the cast iron heats up enough to start popping, you could already be eating your popped corn if you used another type of pan.

Do the seasonings really work as well when they're mixed into the fat vs. sprinkled over the top of the popped corn?

Absolutely! I think I found it out by mistake once - one of those serendipity moments, Everything is coated evenly. And I actually use less salt this way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Orville stuff and any other commercial brands I've tried are very very bland.

We've grown a family heirloom for generations and while it doesn't pop as large and fluffy, the flavor is far far superior!

We've always popped in a basket in the fireplace or in a saucepan on the stove....topped with salt and fresh Jersey butter, always Jersey butter.

~Martin

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Normal aluminium pot, kernels in to cover the bottom (generally Kelkin, as it's ubiquitous here), just enough sunflower oil for the lightest of kernel coating, high heat, off we go.

The only thing I do differently is that when the first kernel pops I remove the pot from the heat for exactly one minute. I read this on the back of a packet a long time ago and I've done it ever since without ever really testing it. Back then, I felt it made for fewer unpopped kernels as they all seemed more likely to pop at roughly the same time. It probably does nothing at all but I like the ritual, and occasionally I'll see how much of the right hand of Chopin's Minute Waltz* I can get through before the popcorn needs to go back on the heat.

After that, reduce heat, open lid occasionally to allow steam out and serve with salt only. For the most part I like my popcorn unsullied, although I have on occasion tried to mimic the popcorn I had at Graham Elliot (parmesan, truffle oil) with limited success.

I'll definitely try the colander trick next time.

*I know it should probably take more than a minute to play, but that's the popcorn rule...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Orville stuff and any other commercial brands I've tried are very very bland.

We've grown a family heirloom for generations and while it doesn't pop as large and fluffy, the flavor is far far superior!

We've always popped in a basket in the fireplace or in a saucepan on the stove....topped with salt and fresh Jersey butter, always Jersey butter.

~Martin

So where can an ordinary person get this "family heirloom" popcorn?

Do you think popping corn in a basket over a fireplace might also add to the flavor? I would think it would add a certain smokiness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read the post on Popping Corn and here’s what I do, (Revived from Cooks Ill).

20ML Canola Oil,

45g Pop Corn,

Put three kernels in the oil, cover pot and heat oil till all three kernels pop.

Remove pot from heat, dump all the kernels into the hot oil, cover with a wire mesh and wait 30 seconds.

Return the pot to the heat and shake till popping is finished.

At first the pop corn will be rather moist. With tossing the kernels give off moisture and crisp up.

Seasonings:

Kosher salt with or without white sugar,

Dried cheddar cheese, garlic powder, salt,

Penzeys Cheese Sprinkle,

A few web sites for corn are:

Vermont Cheese Powder - 8 oz. Jar

Crown Jewel Gourmet Popcorn: Baby Opal

Gourmet Popcorn - The best hulless popcorn

White Cat Popcorn

Nelson87 in Southern Connecticut

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×