Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Oscar week, and the best thing about movies is...

Popcorn!!! Ok, this is a bait and switch...another post about food;)

I LOVE getting popcorn at the movies. I don't do it often - I know how many calories it has, but it is SO good. I've always assumed it can't be duplicated at home. Microwave popcorn doesn't come close in taste. Well, after doing a little research, I have learned how to make it at home! It takes specific ingredients - ones that you may not be able to find at your grocery store (I don't even know if my grocery store carries them…we have Amazon prime so I just ordered everything there).

First, is the oil used to pop the kernals. Movie theaters use coconut oil. I know - not the healthiest (but you never really thought movie theater popcorn was healthy did you?). I tried the coconut oil (the "popping oil" below, with yellow food coloring added) and thought it DID make the popcorn a little crisper, more like the theater. But, unless it is a special occasion, I think olive oil or any other kind of oil tastes fine.

Second, is the salt. This is key, in my opinion. Theaters use very finely ground salt that is powdery. You can apparently run your regular salt through a blender, or you can just buy "popcorn salt." This really improves the taste of homemade popcorn.

Third, is the butter. If you put regular butter on top of your popcorn, it will make it soggy and wet. This is because regular butter has a lot of water in it. Theaters use clarified butter, which is the butter without the water. You can make your own by melting butter and skimming the pure butter off the top when it separates, or you can buy it. It is called "ghee" and is used in Indian cooking.

Fourth, (and this is not necessary but I think VERY helpful) is to get a Whirley Pop. I just got one a few weeks ago and I'm in love. Before, we would make popcorn in a heavy bottom pan. This can be done, but it can be tricky to keep the pan moving fast while letting the steam vent. A Whirley Pop is an aluminum pan (so it heats up very quickly) with a crank that you turn to keep the popcorn moving so it doesn't burn. I love it - you can make popcorn start to finish in about 3-4 minutes (the same as microwave popcorn!) and it tastes SO much better! It's crispier, I've never had it burn, and you can also use less oil in a Whirley Pop.

Here are 2 recipes - the first is for "real" movie theater popcorn. The second is a modified version that is healthier and still tastes pretty darn good, to me!

The Real Stuff
3 T coconut oil (only 1 or 2 in Whirley Pop)
1/2 cup popcorn kernals
3 T clarified butter, or ghee, melted
1 t powdered salt

Healthier Version
1.5 T olive, peanut, or canola oil (in Whirley Pop - may need more if using a regular pan)
1/2 cup popcorn kernals
1.5 t clarified butter, or ghee, melted
1 t powdered salt

Melt oil over low in a heavy bottom pot or stovetop popper. Add kernals and cover, leaving slightly ajar, and increase heat to medium. Shake pan until kernals stop popping, about 3 minutes. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl and drizzle butter and sprinkle salt on top. Toss to coat evenly and serve immediately.

Makes 10 cups

The Whirley Pop also makes a fun toy for 18 month olds:)


Fran Pierce said...[Reply to comment]

Looks like he's trying to ride the whirley-pop! He does keep you entertained!
Oh...and the popcorn looks yummy!

Christine Campo said...[Reply to comment]

Amazon Prime is the best! You can get just about anything delivered to your door in 2 days! Our UPS guy must think I never leave the house. Have you checked out Amazon Mom? We have a subscription for diapers and wipes and get 30% off. Pretty great!

Will looks adorable as usual! Can't wait for baby Jack to meet his cousin!

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