After years of shaking a pan over lots of heat to pop popcorn with only acceptable results, sopped_up_sauce wondered if there is a better way. "I've started turning down the heat and walking away," he says. He uses a thin layer of oil, medium-low heat, a single layer of popcorn kernels, and a loose cover such as a small-holed colander. Then he leaves it to do its thing. "It takes over five minutes for results, but the popcorn I get is tenderer, more consistent, and deeper-flavored than what I've obtained with other techniques."
Other hounds also keep the agitation to a minimum, with good results. noodlepoodle uses a heavy stainless pan or a Dutch oven. "I put in a little over a tablespoon canola oil, cover the bottom with popcorn kernels, cover the pan, set the heat at a little hotter than medium, and walk away," he says. "I listen to it pop until it stops, shake the pan, take it off the heat, wait a few seconds, and take the cover off. Add salt and a little melted butter and enjoy. Most of the time it's perfect."
"I use a small amount of oil and add 3 kernels, once they pop, the oil is sufficiently hot," says hotoynoodle. "I add the rest and only shake the pan a few times. ... Once they start to slow down I turn off the heat. If the popcorn is old, they burn. Otherwise, perfect method."