Monday, August 15, 2011

How to make popcorn (plus Alexander Skarsgård)

In my never-ending quest for Internet dominance, or at least Internet presence, I've decided the time has come to delve into the wide world of food blogging. But seeing how the most complicated thing I made recently was vegetable soup, I thought I'd start at the bottom rung and cover a subject EVERYONE can benefit from. I'm talking about popcorn.

Do you consider microwave popcorn your popcorn of choice? Well, sir or madame, I feel sorry for you. Because microwave popcorn, with all its artificial flavors and popping agents, is truly crap in bag. Do you still have one of those hot-air poppers in the basement? Just toss it into the landfill. Those are excellent machines for making Styrofoam-flavored packing peanuts, but not tasty whole-grain snacks. Jiffy Pop? Fun when you're ten years old but completely unnecessary!

You need to learn how to make some decent popcorn, son. And if there's one thing I know how to do, it's that. So gather 'round, wannabe chefs. Even if you can't boil water, you can still be the talk of your next anarchist book collective, who sneered at you last time you pulled out a box of corporate-funded Cheez-Its. Even your judgemental mother-in-law will be impressed when you start shaking a pot of corn over the stove on family movie night. And because celebrities always get the most hits when it comes to Internet search, "True Blood" star, Alexander Skarsgård will be making a very special appearance! [Please do not arrest me, Google search-engine police]

Here's what you'll need: a sauce pan with a lid, popcorn, cooking oil that can handle high heat (such as canola), sea salt and nutritional yeast (or whatever toppings you crave).

You're going to coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. Just pour some in there but don't make a big puddle. You want to cover the bottom of the pan, then float three kernels of popcorn in the oil. Turn your stove burner to medium-high, cover the pot and stand there, watching like a hawk for a few minutes.

When your test kernels pop--the oil is at optimum popping temperature. Yeah! Pour some popcorn into the pot, again just covering the bottom. Anything other than a single layer of kernels will blow the top right off of the popper (as Orville Redenbacher used to say). Not a bad thing, but it could get messy and then your houseguests will point and laugh at you.

Cover your pot and begin shaking the pot back and forth or in little circles, or up and down. You'll know when the rhythm is right. Everyone's got their own style so find your own.

Action shot of me shaking the pan a bit. Sometimes I just let it sit there on the burner and then give it a little "jounce" once in a while. If the burner is REALLY hot, I actually hold the pan over it without touching hardly at all, just shaking away like a popcorn maraca. It's an exciting snack food!

When the popcorn is barely popping anymore, it's time to take the pot off the heat, open her up, and pour everything into an attractive serving dish. Sprinkle some sea salt or celery salt or curry powder or whatever moves you on top. I always use nutritional yeast because it's buttery without the buttery grease or calories. I got this idea from the now defunct Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco--perhaps the greatest movie-theater collective in the Western Hemisphere. They always supplied patrons with a shaker of nutritional yeast and their popcorn was the best. People who have eaten my popcorn always ask: What's your secret? Well, now you know. Time to pig out.

And as promised, Alexander Skarsgård.


Soup and Song said...

Love this! Love popcorn! And I agree, popped in the pan is best. One thing I've been loving as a topping recently is a mixture of salt & ground sizchuan peppercorns - it's kind of a weird sensation, makes your lips & tongue numb & tingly, but strangely addictive!

Miss Lisa said...

Thanks, kind lady. Everyone: if you really want to learn how to make some excellent food, go to Soup and Song immediately.

Miss Lisa said...

Soup and Song said...

Thanks, Miss Lisa :)