How to make popcorn on the stovetop

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When I was growing up, somebody gave my Dad a popcorn popper. It had a black heating element on the bottom, with legs, and a giant see-through orange/yellow top. In 1975, the first summer after he took a job as a journalism professor, he was home most of the summer. I’d be out playing with my friends in the yard, or swimming in the backyard pool, and he would make a batch of popcorn and bring it out for us to share. I still love my Dad for that.

When I went away to college, I found a popcorn popper like that in a thrift store, and I used it at first. Then I discovered that I could make popcorn in a pan instead, and it was a lot easier to clean. I never went back, and I never fell for those newfangled air poppers or microwaved popcorn. I like it the old-fashioned way.

In a large (4-quart or larger), heavy pot with a lid, heat 3 T of oil over high heat. Put 3 kernels of popcorn in the oil and put the lid on the pot. When you hear the three kernels pop, pour in 1/2 C Jolly Time popcorn. You can use other brands, but the name of that one is the best.

Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook, shaking regularly to avoid burning. When you hear it popping really wildly, you can lift the lid just a tiny bit to let some of the steam out. That will make it fluffier. Eventually, the popping will slow down and stop. Immediately dump the popcorn into a huge bowl.

The pot is still hot enough to melt butter — put a couple spoonfuls of butter in and let them melt. Pour them over the popcorn in the bowl. Put about half of the buttered popcorn back into the pot and swirl it around to pick up the melted butter off the sides. Dump it back in the bowl and mix it very, very well. Now you can sprinkle it with popcorn salt, which is extra-fine salt that will stick to the butter. I like to sprinkle mine with a little nutritional yeast as well, and sometimes some shaved parmesan cheese.