Some girls like chocolate. Me? I need salt. From chips to crackers to nuts to popcorn, I’m a snacker, through and through. My mom used to make popcorn on the stove when we were kids.
Her timing was perfect: just a few minutes before The Love Boat sailed to shore, she’d drop a few kernels into piping hot oil, wait for that first magical POP, then dump in the rest of the kernels before fluffy white perfection brust forth from her Revere Ware pot. A generous drizzle of butter came next, then the salt, sprinkled from on high, caught in the sweet stickiness of the butter and the hidden crevices of the corn. Like I said: perfection.
I still make popcorn on the stove in a Revere Ware pot (not my mother’s though, my sister got those; we have Mr. Gonzo’s family Reverse Ware, which we’ve used every day for years). In fact, Mr. Gonzo and I used to eat just popcorn for dinner, before little gg was born and we’d get home from work too late for dinner, but still hungry enough for a little something. But last Friday, I wanted to try something new.
Kettle corn. I’ve never met a bag of kettle corn I didn’t like. And if you’re lucky enough to live in Tucson, check out the kettle corn truck at the Reid Park Zoo; they use a strain of corn that pops up so big it boggles the mind. But since I’m not in Tucson and I had about 20 minutes before heading out with friends to Carlsbad Jazz in the Park, I decided to whip up this salty sweet snack perfect for kids and adults alike.
This recipe comes from Rachel Ray, but I added a little old-school Grandma Gonzo style to it. It’s easy, fast and oh-so yummy. Just watch the temperature of the oil so the sugar doesn’t burn. And use a big pot, enough to allow some room after the corn stops popping. If you find the sugar has burned the pan a bit don’t fret; just let the pot cool before soaking overnight in soapy hot water. It’s worth a little elbow grease to snack on something this good.
Homemade Kettle Corn
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
- Add the oil and three kernels of corn to a large pot, at least 4-quarts or larger. Cover and heat over medium-high heat. The oil is hot once you hear three pops.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, stir together the sugar and the remaining popcorn kernels. Slowly pour this into the pot, trying to get a consistent layer across the entire pot.
- Reduce the heat to medium to discourage burning the sugar.
- As the popcorn pops, gently shake the pot up and down and side to side, using oven mits and holding tight to the lid.
- Once the popcorn has stopped popping, which usually takes just a few minutes, remove from heat. In the same pot, add the salt and toss.
- Transfer to a large bowl, or individual popcorn bags, and serve immediately.
Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Ray.