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What are your best popcorn recipes?(r/Cooking)
I worked at a theaterpub and got to work on developing the popcorn process for the theater. The best theater popcorn uses a coconut oil base as the popping fat. You want to use pure coconut oil or get a product like this or this. These products are primarily coconut oil with annatto for coloring, and they are solid at room temperature. They are better than regular oils or butter flavored liquid popping oil because the coconut oil tastes richer and more unctuous.
You also want to get Flavacol popcorn salt. This is a commercial product, and I’ve never seen it offered in retail, but you can get it from Amazon. Flavacol is a superfine powdered salt with butter flavoring and annatto. It’s a finer grind than the popcorn salt sold in grocery stores. When you make popcorn, you add the coconut oil to the pot, heat it up, then add the popcorn and the Flavacol. It sticks to the kernels as they pop, and the popcorn doesn’t need to be salted after popping.
Finally, the butter. You can’t use just straight melted butter, because the water fraction of the butter will soak into the popcorn and make it soggy. You need to use clarified butter. Melt a pound or so of butter in a pot on the stove, and let it simmer for awhile. You want to let the water underneath the butterfat reduce and boil away, but you don’t want to let all of it boil away or the butter will burn. You want to allow the milk sugar in the water to begin to caramelize. This will flavor the butterfat with a wonderful, nutty aroma. Once that happens, let the butter cool, then pour off the fat. Use this clarified butter to butter your popcorn. It won’t make the kernels soggy. You can refrigerate any leftover butter tightly sealed for next time.
Once you have butter on the popcorn, you can add flavorings. But anything you use needs to be very finely pulverized. That’s why Kraft-style powdered cheese is so popular. Even powdered parmesan cheese like you get in the green can is too coarse to really stick, but you can pulverize it finer in a food processor.
One of my favorite seasonings is bacon, cheese and chive. The bacon needs to be fried crisp and drained well, then frozen before processing. You can’t get it quite as fine as parmesan before it balls up, but you can get it close enough. Then pulverize some good parmesan, Reggiano or Grana Padana. Mix together the bacon and parmesan with some Kraft-style powdered cheese, dehydrated chives, black pepper, cayenne and a hint of garlic powder to taste. You can add a little cornstarch to this mixture to keep it from clumping.
If you like popcorn, you should try mushroom popcorn which pops up rounder. It’s not my personal favorite, but it’s used by lots of kettle corn companies, and the shape is distinctive.
Here’s a good recipe for butter toffee popcorn. It’s better than caramel corn, because butter, and the candy coating is more crispy. This recipe includes peanuts, so it’s like Cracker Jack, only better. I’ve made this with alder smoked salt and toasted chopped almonds/pecans instead of peanuts, and it’s a big hit. Sort of like smokehouse almonds with caramel corn.