My teenage son has asked me to buy some bags of microwave popcorn. I generally make our own at home through various stovetop methods or with this microwave product which uses regular kernels:
I am pretty sure that my son actually LIKES what I dislike about prepackaged microwave popcorns: the intensity of salt and fake butter flavor. Cooks Illustrated's taste test insists that fresh popped corn triumphs over all packaged microwave bags, but they do recommend two such bags with reservations:
Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn Natural Butter Flavor
Pop-Secret Premium Popcorn Butter Flavor
What I'm wondering: by what means might I satisfy his cravings at least a little better without resorting to the processed products with unpronounceable ingredients and artificial butter?
I did buy some coconut popcorn oil at an Amish store but found it a bit odd in its melting properties and taste.
Maybe just use more salt with an oil/butter mix?
I pop popcorn in bacon grease and then top it with browned butter. I also use a very fine, powdery salt for salting (it sticks better and salts more evenly). My husband's daughters were raised on microwave and they BEG us to make it for them.
There are some microwave popcorn options that don't have all of the crap in them - usually the ones labeled "organic" are very good. Our local grocers even have store-brand organic ones.
Here is the popper I use:
I'm one of those no-plastic-in-the-micro sorts, so this popper is great. You can put quite a lot of butter in the top of it to be distributed while it pops. The popcorn from the Catamount popper is more crisp than fluffy, which is my preference.
Maybe some superfine (popcorn) salt would help - it coats the popcorn differently, giving that expected mouthfeel.
Being decadent, we melt butter w/ garlic and other seasonings and then pour it over the popcorn.
I second biondanonima on this one- brown your butter before you pour it over the popcorn. You won't be sorry.
I add just a splash or two of Louisiana sauce too, not enough for heat but for the wonderful savory aroma.
And I use Herbamare instead of plain salt. It isn't heavily flavored like most seasoned salt and makes a world of difference.
If you have a small electric coffee grinder, it is easy to make your own popcorn salt by grinding some kosher salt to a fine consistency. It sticks better and you will probably use less.
My personal preference is popping with oil on the stove (tastes better than kernels popped in the microwave) and the oil helps the salt stick. For variety, I like to pop in different kinds of fats - coconut oil, olive oil, even ghee.
Nutritional yeast is a great topping that adds a cheesy umami along with nutrition.