I have a long history of sucking at making popcorn on the stove. In college, my roommate Maggie and I could have contests involving the number of kernels left at the bottom of the bowl. If your batch had less than 6, you got a free beer. If you had zero kernels left, I think you got a six-pack. I'm not sure I ever finished paying off all the beer I owed her.
In grad school, my roommate Rachel and I would make popcorn and watch Sex and the City ... and study. Cause we were lame. But I still wasn't all that good at it.
Cue Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. You never really failed me ... until now. Even pinterest couldn't fix my popcorn predicament.
And then I sort of solved it by accident.
Here we go. Forgive the lack of measurements ... I tend to wing it in the kitchen.
Perfect Stove-Top Popcorn
Pop Corn Kernels
Any toppings you want (butter, salt, etc.)
In a 1-1/2 qt sauce pan, pour enough oil to just cover the bottom. Throw in about 10 popcorn kernels. Cover and shake a few times so kernels are coated with oil. Place over medium heat and walk away for a minute. I mean, don't leave the house with the stove on, but you can do dishes or something. This part is going to take a few minutes. Ever minute or so go back and shake the kernels around. You'll notice that they'll start to turn golden. When they start to pop, keep shaking the pan above the heat so they don't burn. Once they all pop (you'll know because you won't hear any "clinking" in the pan from the kernels), dump them into a bowl. Put another layer of oil down and throw another handful of kernels in (about a Tbsp), and shake a few times until coated. Because the pan is already the right temperature, the oil will heat quickly and the kernels will pop fast! As soon as they start to pop, keep shaking until all popped. Repeat until you have as much popcorn as you want.
Why this works: I used to put in as many kernels as the amount of popcorn I wanted. This didn't work because there were too many kernels, they would get stuck in the middle of the popped popcorn and not pop. Doing it in small batches means all the kernels get oil and touch the bottom of the pan, so they'll all get hot enough to pop. Also, when there are only a few kernels, you'll hear when it's done and won't keep the pan on the stove too long (which prevents burning).