Originally posted September 01, 2011

popcorn (the casserole dish method)

popcorn (the casserole dish method) by joanie

Who needs a recipe for popcorn? Well, if you're not making it in a casserole dish, then I guess you do!

I'm so excited that I discovered this. It all began after coming across Mark Bittman's 2008 article "Microwave Popcorn, Without the Ripoff":
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/microwave-popcorn-minus-the-ripoff/

Basically, he says to skip the commercial microwave products. Money-wise, they're a scam. And now we know they're also hazardous to our health. They're extremely fattening, the chemical butter is bad for us, and the chemical used in the bag degrades at high heat and can enter the food. Did you know there's a thing called Popcorn Lung? For more, read "Microwave Popcorn Health Risks":
http://www.livestrong.com/article/280511-microwave-popcorn-health-risks/

So the simple paper bag method. Just put 1/3 cup of popcorn into a plain paper bag, fold down the top a few times, microwave on high for a couple of minutes, and presto! I got excited. It was all too good to be true, although I didn't actually have any paper bags so I'd need to buy them. So one strike against it. And then there was this other thing that I started to wonder as the idea settled in. What are plain paper bags made of? Glue?

The general sentiment across the Internet about this method is either: 1) Awesome! Time for homemade paper bag popcorn! or 2) Paper bags are bad for you and/or stupid. Make popcorn the old fashioned stove-top way. Okay, there was a very minor, very vocal third option: a whirley pop. I'll let you look that up.

Then I had an idea: what about using something I already owned? Namely, a clear 2 quart round glass Pyrex casserole dish with a lid? Seemed brilliant. Almost too brilliant. I did a little research and found a couple mentions of others trying this method, as well as an assumption that you shouldn't use a glass lid in a microwave. It was dangerous. It would surely explode. I kept calm...and then called Pyrex. They suggested you make sure steam can escape by offsetting the lid just a bit.

So I tried it...and it worked! It was great actually seeing the popcorn pop through the glass dish, but even better--and get this, you'll never believe it--my kitchen actually smelled kind of like...CORN!

What's also excellent about this method is that it's easy to flavor the popcorn with pretty much anything as it's popping. I simply used butter and a little salt, and the flavor was tasty. Imagine using a little truffle oil or herbs.

Finally--and this is important--every microwave is different so if you're trying this recipe, be sure to watch it the entire time and learn how best to time it in your own microwave. For me, it took a good 3 1/2 minutes before a kernel even popped, and then it was just over 8 minutes for it to finish. You want the cooking time to be uninterrupted so err on the side of greater, and then intervene just when the kernels stop popping.

UPDATE: I have to say, the no-work stovetop method is best. It's just too easy to burn the popcorn in the microwave, and it takes kind of a long time...
http://www.cookooree.com/u/joanie/recipes/easy-popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup popcorn
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
5 cups

Directions

Soak the popcorn in water. (Apparently this encourages popping. I don't know, but it seemed easy to do.)

In a clear, microwave-safe casserole dish, add butter and salt. Drain the popcorn and add it to the dish. Place the lid on the dish, offsetting it just enough for steam to pass but not popped kernels to escape.

Place in the microwave. Cook uninterrupted on high just until the popping starts to decrease (around 8 minutes). This part is an art. If you go too long, the popcorn will start to burn.

The dish is hot so use potholders when removing it from the microwave. Transfer to a bowl. If you want, add additional flavor before serving.

10 minutes

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