Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homemade Kettle Corn

Homemade Kettle Corn


1/4 cup vegtable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernals
salt to taste.


1) Heat a 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat in a large pot with a wide base.  Make sure the pot had a tight fitting lid or you’ll have caramel shrapnel all over your kitchen (not to mention neck).  It’s best to use a pot with a thick bottom so the heat is more even.  Be sure to use vegtable oil or some other oil with a high smoking point.  Don’t use olive oil or butter, they will burn.  As a rule.  If the oil is smoking, its too HOT!

2)  Toss a couple of kernels into the oil and put the lid on.  Listen until you hear them pop and you’ll know the oil is ready.  Add the rest of the kernels to the oil and shake the pot to make sure the kernels are sitting in an even single layer.  Wait about 30 seconds then evenly sprinkle the sugar over the top of the kernels and give the pot another shake.  If the kernels start popping while you are applying the sugar, dump the rest of the sugar in quickly and CLOSE THE LID!  You’re about to get boiling oil exploding all over you.  It is VERY important that from here on out you open the lid away from you and only open it as little as possible.

3)  Depending on the temperature of your oil you’ll have about a minute before the kernals start popping.  I usually reduce my heat at this point to between medium and medium low.  For the first minute or so just giving the pot a good shake will keep the kernals from burning.  And once the popping starts, you’ll want to shake the pot frequently back and forth every 10 seconds or so.  The actual technique of the shaking will vary depending on your pot and the stove you use…but with practice you’ll get the feel for it.  As the popping starts to slow I like to slip in some large cooking chopsticks under the lid and give it a stir.  You could use the handle of a long wooden spoon.  Don’t use anything plastic.  The oil is super hot and will melt it!

4)  As the popping starts to wind down I stir the popcorn and check the bottom to see if I’ve got most of the kernels popped.  If not, back on th heat it goes.  If it looks mostly done I take it off the heat and give it a sprinkling of salt.  I like to use kosher salt because I find its a bit sweeter and softer than iodized salt.  The popcorn will stick together a bit, but as you stir it will cools and break apart.  Pour it in a bowl and watch it disapear before your movies opening credits finish rolling.

Trouble shooting:
1)  My popcorn burns:  Your oil is too hot and you need to stir the kernels on the bottom a little bit more.
2)  The corn won’t pop or is small when it pops:  Your corn is old.  Popcorn has to have a certain internal humidity to work.  If it’s old, throw it out and get some fresh stuff from the store.
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