There’s nothing like these cool autumn days to call up nostalgic home comforts. Soups, stews, a fire in the fireplace, hot tea with milk, and kettle corn!
Growing up we made popcorn balls about once a year. I’ve made them with my children, too, but I like the kettle corn’s more subtle sweetness. Not that it’s all that subtle, mind you, but it’s more subtle than the corn syrup laden popcorn balls.
This is not for the faint of heart, and I wouldn’t encourage you to have your kids make it. You have to be very cautious so you don’t get burned.
Large stock pot or dutch oven with a lid
1/2 c. water
2/3 c. popcorn kernels
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. cooking oil for popping
Put the unpopped kernels of popcorn into a bowl with the water and let soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Place three unpopped kernels of corn in your large stock pot or dutch oven (mine is 6 quarts – I’d like 7 or 8 quarts better). Heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat until the three kernels pop.
Now, very carefully add the water and popcorn kernels, and the sugar, to the stock pot. I keep my lid on and, lifting it in the direction away from my face, add the popcorn and water and the sugar under the back side of the lifted lid. It will spit and sputter and have a general hissy fit, and if you are not careful, you will get burned. If you can, long oven mitts to protect your arms and hands while you pour the water and corn in will be a huge plus.
Let it sit over medium-high heat for a few minutes, and when the kernels begin to pop, start shaking the pan back and forth on the burner somewhat vigorously, to keep the popped corn from sitting in one place and burning. Pay attention to the sound of the kernels popping, and when they slow down to one every couple seconds, remove your pot from the burner instantly, then turn the burner off. This should minimize any burning.
The kettle corn will be very hot. We just about always burn tongues in our impatience to taste it! Give it a couple minutes to cool down some, and serve immediately. Serves 6-8.