Seems like a simple thing, but I found an intriguing new technique at Simple Recipes entitled Perfect Popcorn. And it pretty much is… perfect, that is.
The key is to pop three kernels in the pan, then add the rest of the popcorn and move it off the burner for 30 seconds. This actually improves the corn-popping by making it all pop faster without any burned kernels. Wow!
Here are the basic steps… leaving out the parts I don’t use.
For example, they recommend a few different oils such as peanut or grapeseed because they have a high smoke point – I use a light olive oil because it tastes better.
1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.
2 Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.
5 Salt and/or season to taste. Personally, I prefer a mix of nutritional (brewer’s) yeast and cayenne pepper. It’s an old college favorite that works well with my new eating discipline. However, I’m having trouble finding brewer’s yeast that is finely ground – mostly you find it in flakes. I am grinding the flakes in my (carefully cleaned) coffee grinder then putting them in a salt-shaker. Curious side-note: There have been anecdotal reports that consuming brewer’s yeast makes a person less attractive to mosquitoes. Googling the subject finds very little scientific support, though I did find this one simple but interesting report. All I know is that it seems to be beneficial in my own experience.