My grandmother Catherine regularly set out warm batches of popovers on her holiday table, big bombastic puffs of air and eggy dough. As a result, I’ve been powerless to resist their crispy-chewy charms since childhood, trooping to out-of-the-way cafés who’ve been rumored to make them, baking my own, making pilgrimages to the dining rooms of Neiman Marcus where they’re served to fancy lunching ladies with strawberry butter. (Right past the Balenciaga bags and directly up the stairs, don’t even look at those suede peep-toe Louboutins, because a popover-Chard-lobster salad lunch is luxury enough, no?)
Buttery-crisp on the outside, webbed with a chewy interior but nearly hollow within, classic popovers are a satisfying, big-flavored foil to holiday roasts and meaty braises. To keep up with a mustard-rubbed rack of lamb I was serving, though, I amped up a standard batter with cracked black pepper, minced herbs and savory Parmesan. You can use a bit of pan drippings to grease your popover tin, Yorkshire pudding style, though if you’re new to the adventure you can just butter a standard muffin tin. (Your popovers may not reach the dramatic heights they would in a specialized pan, but they’ll eat just as good.) To achieve sky-high poufs, take care not to peek while they’re baking, use a cool batter and warm your pan ahead.
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking, 1980 and the Gourmet Cookbook, 2004; makes six
- 2 large eggs, cool
- 1 C 2% milk, cool
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted
- 3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 C finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 scant Tbsp fresh rosemary or thyme, minced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Generously butter a popover pan (six 2/3 cups) or muffin tin (twelve 1/2 cups).
In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk the eggs, milk and butter together; the butter may seize up into little flakes. In another bowl, sift the flour, salt, cheese and rosemary together. Preheat the popover tin for 5 minutes; meanwhile, whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. The batter should look slightly lumpy, about the same consistency as pancake batter.
Once the pan has preheated, divide the batter equally among each cup (about a generous 1/4 C each). Bake for 15 minutes, and then (no peeking!) lower the heat to 350 degrees; continue to bake until well-browned and puffed up, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the popovers from the cups to a wire cooling rack and make several slits with a sharp paring knife to release the steam. Serve warm.