Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels
into the oil and cover the pan. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn
kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds.
(This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds
brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are
put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.)
Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once.
Once the popping begins, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the
burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the
popcorn will be drier and crisper).
Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the
heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl. Add salt
to taste (and Parmesan cheese and seasoning if you would like) and toss.
**if you add salt to the oil in the pan before popping, when the popcorn pops,
the salt will be well-distributed throughout the popcorn