Nothing tastes better than buttery popcorn while watching a movie. Begin with high-quality, fresh popping corn and real butter. Stick butter is best and you can choose salted or unsalted. Have on hand at least a half stick of butter for each gallon of popped corn. By the way, three hungry movie-watchers will probably down a gallon of popcorn, so prepare accordingly. Make small batches so you can eat while both the popped corn and butter are hot.
Preparing the Butter
Perfectly melted popcorn butter is very hot with no solidity. It isn’t heated so much that it turns brown. You can melt it in a glass container in the microwave for 25 to 35 seconds. A measuring cup is ideal. You can also melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat just until it displays its first bubbling. With practice, you can learn to heat the butter at just the moment the hot popcorn is ready.
Air poppers are the healthiest way to prepare the popcorn itself. Many poppers have a built-in butter holder to melt the butter but, often, the butter doesn’t get adequate time to melt before the popcorn is done. Most poppers have a built-in measuring cup to show you how much popcorn to use in each batch. Do not exceed this or the kernels can get lodged in the chute, ruining the end result. Keep the popcorn under the hot, blowing air until you are ready to add the butter.
Using a sturdy medium or large pot with lid, add just enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pot. Good choices include coconut oil, peanut oil, corn oil, vegetable oil or an oil specifically made for popcorn. Avoid using butter or margarine as they can make the popcorn tough. Also, avoid oils that change the taste of food, such as olive or sesame oil. Heat oil on medium-high for several minutes with the lid on. Add one kernel of corn. When it pops, add just enough popcorn to fill the bottom of the pot. Keep the lid on and move the pot in a circular direction for about 20 seconds with a 20-second break, repeating until popping slows. Remove from heat and open the lid to allow steam to escape.
Pour the popcorn into one large bowl or individual bowls and salt lightly, if desired. Stir the butter with a small spoon as, otherwise, it will pour out milky and then oily. Pour the butter slowly, trying to evenly reach all the popcorn. Stir the popcorn with a large spoon if you want to further distribute the butter. Want to spice things up a bit? Add seasoning to the buttered corn — consider black pepper, Parmesan cheese, an oregano and basil mix or cinnamon sugar.