I’d call it kettle corn, but I don’t have a kettle.
I based this recipe on the one found on the website for Velma’s Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn. There’s a cute little slideshow with the recipe, and I couldn’t resist giving it a try in my own kitchen. Obviously, I reduced the quantity…I don’t have a giant kettle! A medium-sized saucepan worked just perfectly.
Medium Saucepan Corn
1/3 cup white popcorn kernels
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
several glugs of vegetable oil (I didn’t measure it, but use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan and dissolve the sugar)
salt to taste
Find a medium-sized saucepan, and double-check the amount of popcorn. You should have just enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan. A few more or less isn’t terrible, but there shouldn’t be lots of kernels on top of each other, nor should there be so few kernels that you could be using a smaller saucepan. My pan works perfectly with 1/3 cup of kernels, so that’s what I went with. If you use more (or less) than this, adjust the amount of sugar so it’s just around half of the measure of popcorn (the original recipe suggests that if you use 6 cups of corn, use 3 cups of sugar). Once you figure this out, set the kernels aside.
Put the sugar in the saucepan, and pour oil over the top until the bottom of the pan is coated, and there is enough that (with a bit of stirring) there isn’t a mound of sugar above the oil line. Turn the burner to medium-high heat, and brown the sugar. Stir constantly.
After a few minutes, the sugar won’t be visible in granular form, but will take the shape of a caramel-colored puddle at the surface of the oil. When this happens, turn the heat down to medium-low, dump the kernels into the saucepan, and cover with a lid.
Hang out near the saucepan, because once the popcorn starts popping, you’ll want to be in control. If you ignore it, you run the risk of burning the popcorn or having a serious mess on your hands when the popped corn forces the lid off and starts exploding all over your kitchen.
When the popped corn starts to near the lid, lightly hold onto the lid. Don’t push it down, but use it to keep the exploding corn contained. If the corn pushes too hard at the lid, carefully shake some of it into a bowl and return the pan to the stove while the remaining kernels pop.
Transfer all of the popped kernels to a large bowl. Shake salt onto the corn, and stir with a wooden spoon to distribute it evenly over the popcorn. Taste a few pieces, and when the batch has the right combo of salty and sweet, go ahead and serve it.
Accident-prone moment: I totally burned my hand when I took the lid off the pan too soon. Hot oil splashed up right along with the zooming popcorn, and it was unpleasant. You should…try not to do this. If you do burn yourself with the oil? The popcorn is not as important as fixing your burnt self, so if you have to remove it from the heat to the detriment of the batch (don’t leave it on the stove to burn!), life will go on and you can make another batch. Grab a towel soaked in cool water and cool your burnt skin (Alternately, run cool water from the faucet over the burn, or soak the burned area in water. Don’t use ice, though! Cool water is the best option), gently pat it dry, and apply aloe vera (but not lotion!) and a sterile gauze bandage if you so desire. If you happen to be unlucky enough to get a serious burn, bring in some reinforcements (emergency help).