It recently came to my attention that people still eat microwave popcorn! Why?! Besides being not delicious, the makers of microwave popcorn are guilty of taking a simple, healthful, easy-to-make snack (popcorn) and unnecessarily assaulting it with salt, food coloring, and chemicals, all in the name of convenience. Don’t be fooled. It’s so easy and delicious to make yourself!
You can make popcorn in any pot with a lid, but if you make it fairly often, I highly recommend getting a Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popper, which can sometimes be had for less than $20 on Amazon. As soon as I received this as a gift (it makes a great hostess gift, by the way!) I started making popcorn all the time. You end up with virtually no unpopped kernels and it just takes a few minutes to make a big batch.
For a nice-sized bowl of popcorn, put about two tablespoons of canola oil and 1/2 cup popcorn kernels in your Whirley-Pop or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Heat over medium, cranking (as per Whirley-Pop instructions) or gently stirring with a rubber spatula. If using a pot, as soon as you hear a kernel pop, place the lid on pot and gently shake over the heat (leave lid slightly ajar to let steam escape.) As soon as the popping subsides, remove from heat and carefully dump into a bowl.
Now on Pinterest, etc. there are a million different recipes for inventive popcorn toppings, like curry or parmesan cheese, but I love simple butter and salt. The secret to getting this just right is to clarify your butter beforehand. Clarifying removes the water and milk solids from the butter, so your popcorn stays crisp instead of soggy. To do this, simply melt a few tablespoons of unsalted butter (maybe 3-4 for 1 batch of corn) in a small pot over medium-low heat (don’t let it brown.)
When butter is completely melted, spoon away the foam that has risen to the surface so you’re only left with pure, clear yellow liquid. (BTW-if you use a butter substitute, your popcorn will most definitely be soggy. If you want to cut down on butterfat, clarify only 2 tablespoons butter and make up the difference with some high-quality olive oil.)
Drizzle about 1/3 of the butter over the bowl of popcorn and sprinkle with kosher salt. Toss gently and repeat process with remaining butter. Serve immediately.
Note: If you have young children, keep in mind that popcorn is a top choking hazard. When I give it to my kids, I am very strict about having them eat only one kernel at a time and chewing and swallowing it before they take another. I also keep drinks nearby. That said, never give popcorn to kids under two or any child who has issues with food textures or difficulty swallowing. Popcorn is considered a choking risk to children up until age 5.