Mystery House

You Won’t Believe This One


Popcorn 1

That’s what we eat some nights when neither of us feels like cooking a real dinner, or even eating one.  Was this the sort of week when we’d have a night like that?  I can’t imagine why you’d ask.  Now, don’t click away just yet.  I have a question for you:  Do you know how to make popcorn?

I don’t mean microwaving a bag full of pellets and toxic fumes.  Nor do I mean digging out your dusty old air popper.  I mean really making popcorn, the old-fashioned way, the way that pastry chefs make it when they’re going to concoct a batch of caramel corn and serve it in fancy paper cones.  And yeah, the way my dad made it.

I learned simply by watching him.  It’s incredibly easy.  It also results in the best popcorn you’ve ever had — the M.E. never liked popcorn until I made it for him, but now he puts in special requests.

The first thing you need is good corn.  I used to buy Orville Redenbacher’s and that was just fine, but I was recently converted when I ran across locally grown, organic popcorn at Fresh & Natural.

Popcorn 2

It’s got great flavor — yes, a noticeable difference — and was less than half the price to boot.

Then you need some oven mitts…

Popcorn 6

…and a nice pot.  This was my great-aunt’s dutch oven.  She cooked everything in this pot.  Amazing pot roasts with cornmeal dumplings, stews, and the best greens you’ve ever had.  I love this pot, and I’m honored that it became mine after she passed on.  (Note the brand new handle recently put on by the M.E.  Club aluminum lasts forever, but the handles do eventually disintegrate.  You can find replacements at the hardware store.)

Popcorn Pot

Put three tablespoons of canola oil in the pot, and a few kernels of corn.  Just three or four.  Okay, five.  Turn the heat on high, cover the pot and wait a few minutes.  When you hear the kernels pop, the oil’s hot enough.

Popcorn 3

Pour in 1/2 cup popcorn.

Popcorn 4

Cover the pot and put on your oven mitts.  Pick up the pot and give it a good shake.  Side to side, up and down.  If you get inspired, you can do an interpretive dance at the same time.  I’d never do anything like that, of course.  Keep shaking it — heh — every few seconds until the popping gets well underway.  This will not take long.  In fact, I’d venture to say it takes no more time than microwaving a bag of toxic fumes, and is a lot more fun. If you’re doing a reasonably good dance, it can even be entertaining for any bystanders who might happen to be standing by, assuming you allow bystanders in the kitchen while you’re dancing cooking.

When the furious popping ceases and the pops become few and far between, it’s done.  Stop dancing, take the popcorn off the heat so it doesn’t burn, dump it immediately into a big bowl, and add whatever you add.  We like it with salt, nada mas.

Popcorn 5

Unless I’m making caramel corn.  And I love to make caramel corn even though I have yet to serve it in fancy paper cones.  But that’s another story.


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  1. * Chris says:

    Popcorn’s a perfectly acceptable dinner around here, too… altho I virtually always stick to the microwave stuff.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  2. * cursingmama says:

    Mr. M makes it exactly the same – except he adds some buttery salt stuff to the oil which gets the corn evenly salty.
    Didn’t know you could get the kernels at Fresh & Natural…now I’ve got another thing to stop & get there.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  3. * Jeanne says:

    Hmmm….back before microwaves, that’s how we used to make popcorn, usually at least once per week. Now, fortunately, we make it far less often because we have to have BUTTER on ours.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  4. * Cheryl S. says:

    Sadly, my husband likes his popcorn air-popped, with absolutely nothing on it. I think he might as well eat Styrofoam. At least we can make a batch and I can put butter and salt on my half. But I may have to give this a try some night.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  5. * Connie says:

    That is exactly how we used to make it – I still do from time to time. You should try popping an ear of corn with the kernels still on it! We have done that in the microwave, the ear in a paper bag – the kids love it when it comes out!

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  6. * Lydee says:

    thank you, I will have to try soon!

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  7. * Janet says:

    This is exactly the way my dad taught me to make it. We used to have it 3-4 nights a week with a wee class of coca-cola. The only way to pop corn.
    Although I admit to using Olive Oil now – gives it a really nice flavor – especially since I am not a butter gal, either.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  8. * del says:

    I remember making popcorn this way! And it was delicious.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  9. * bezzie says:

    We made popcorn like this as a kid all the time. Of course I think I was 17 when the ‘rents finally broke down and bought a microwave!
    YOu should try to sprout some of your popcorn–all the “posh” restaurants in the city here do that. It adds a really sweet crunchy flavor to your salads!

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  10. * deb says:

    Memories. I can smell them. I used to grate fresh parmesan cheese on mine. Curious though – do you really need to label the jar?

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  11. * bellamoden says:

    I love stove popped popcorn! I do salt/pepper or salt/sugar/cinnamon.
    When I do it. It’s been a while since I’ve been unsick. Le sigh.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  12. * Mary Lou says:

    Oh was just thinking about how when I lived alone I had popcorn for dinner frequently. I have a tin of popcorn I got from a cubscout. And that pot — my mother had one and it was old then. I am jealous. We had many many meals from that dutch oven. Meatloaf anyone?

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  13. * Carrie K says:

    The only way to make popcorn! Possibly minus the interpretive dancing. You could even have it for breakfast with milk poured onto it. I’m assured that’s a Native American dish, but it’s possible it’s just my brother in law’s idea of breakfast.
    I need to look for some local popcorn.

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  14. * Guinifer says:

    My boys like it with the real melted butter….
    (that’s just the way I learned how to make the ‘corn!)

    Posted 9 years, 9 months ago
  15. * Lorette says:

    Oh man, I haven’t had real popcorn in forever. I do have a great dutch oven though, so I’m going to get some and give it a go.

    Posted 9 years, 8 months ago

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