All popcorn needs is heat. With heat, the kernel’s internal moisture turns to steam, building pressure against the walls of the kernel until it explodes inside-out into a plump white puff.
From microwaving loose kernels in a paper bag, using a hot-air popper, a frying pan or pot, the art comes in how you heat the kernels -- and nothing takes finesse to master like the old-fashioned stovetop skillet or electric frying pan:
Measure out 3 parts popcorn to 1 part oil. Pour the oil into your pan and add 3-4 popcorn kernels. Heat covered on medium or high until the kernels pop. Once popped, pour the remaining popcorn into the pan and heat covered until popping slows, shaking the pot during popping to keep un-popped kernels at the bottom. Once finished, remove from heat and serve in a bowl. Season with salt and butter to taste.
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