I love popcorn but I really don't like microwaved popcorn. It's just not as good as popcorn popped in a pan - no way, uh-huh, not. I grew up eating popcorn that my mom had popped in a dutch oven on the stove using lard (Crisco to be exact) and somehow that popcorn never needed a barrel of butter on it - fake or real!
We used Jolly Time popcorn when I was a kid but when I found a nice big jar of Orville Reddenbacher I thought I'd give it a try. I'm really fussy about popcorn - some of the stuff you get now is tough and so tiny that all I feel like I'm eating is a mouthful of husks! I was pleasantly surprised by Orville's for stove top popping and I've been enjoying big bowls of popcorn since.
Yesterday I was thinking about kettle corn - it's that sweet and salty combo that is perfect for when you can't make up your mind - and wondered if I could make it myself. I've seen them make it at art fairs for years and it's simply a matter of adding sugar to the oil and corn during the popping process.
I gave it a try and it worked great! I used brown sugar for mine - it gave the kettle corn a more caramelized flavor than regular sugar. The regular sugar taste always reminds me of a popcorn ball and I do like popcorn balls but I was just experimenting. It worked out great, I ate the entire bowl and I'm doing it again soon! Here's my recipe:
1/3 Cup Corn Oil
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/3 - 1/2 Cup Pop Corn (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
Heat the oil over medium heat until it's hot but not smoking. Once the oil is hot stir in the sugar, salt and the popcorn then cover. Vent a little bit to release the steam but be careful that the hot oil and sugar can't get out and burn you - if you don't have a vent in the lid, tilt the lid open just a crack AWAY from you. Constantly shake the pan so the oil and sugar coat the kernels as they pop and so it doesn't stick to the bottom. (I use two oven mitts to grab the pan by the handles.) When the kernel popping has slowed remove from the heat but continue to shake for a bit. Allow this to cool a bit (remember hot sugar burns!) then pour into a serving bowl and enjoy!
I know a lot of people will tell you to make a sugar coating after and pour it over the popped corn - and you can do this too but why bother? It's not necessary unless you're really fussy about "equal coating" and it's way more work. BTW, once your popcorn is out of the pan fill the pan and the lid with water so the sugar won't harden and become difficult to remove later - I just filled the pot up with soapy water, put the lid on upside down and filled it too and dealt with it later!
You can add all sorts of fun ingredients just after you pour the corn into the bowl - the sugar will still be a bit sticky (and hot so be careful - mix with a wooden spoon!) Add nuts, M&Ms, pretzels even dried fruit bits if you want!