Monday, January 28, 2013

Bringin' Popover Back!

Well, I guess I always just figured EVERYone knows what a popover is. I found out today that I'm wrong. I shared a photo of mine on facebook and the first comment was "what's a popover?". It was from my friend, Susan...obviously a Popover Virgin!
To be honest, I never had one or heard of one until I moved in with my best friend/roommate. Jamie, back in the early 90's. He had a popover pan and a killer recipe, which I still have handwritten by him somewhere around here. It's amazing I could read it considering how illegible his writing is. He's a doctor, by the way. (insert rimshot!)

During our very long relationship as roommates, Sunday was always popover day. Jamie would wake up and make them and then we'd clean the apartment while listening to NPR. It was just our "thing".
When I relocated over 4 years ago, one thing I missed right away was popovers. I moved to Pennsylvania in October and for Jamie's holiday visit that first Christmas away from Detroit, he brought me a popover pan!
It's always in my kitchen and I love making them.

The first batches I made came out perfectly. I am at a higher elevation here but not that much off from Detroit that I thought it should make any difference in my baking. The next batch I made was awful! They didn't rise at all. I started researching every recipe and article I could find to discover what was causing mine to come out so poorly. I never had them come out like that back in Michigan. It was odd.
If you can find it, Alton Brown did a Good Eats episode called "Popover Sometime". It's one of my favorites. It's often repeated on the new Food TV channel. Yes, I DVR'd it the last time it was on.
I'm not going to go too in depth with all the science here. That's Alton's job. That's why he gets the big bucks.
I switched to his recipe and it seemed to work great. I never had non-rising, flat popovers again.

I bought a Hobby Farms Chicken magazine in December and was pleased to see that there was an article called "Eggcellent Meal Ideas". Popovers were one of the recipes featured. I love the author's description and memories of them. The recipe is excerpted  from "The Fresh Egg Cookbook: From chicken to kitchen: Recipes for using eggs from farmers markets, local farms and your own backyard"
(Storey Publishing, 2012) by Jennifer Trainer Thompson. (photography by Jason Houston)
Believe me, THAT book is now on my "to buy" list. And I'm not getting it on kindle...I'm buying the actual book. That's one that really needs to be in my collection!
Being the crazy chicken gal I am and being so into my fresh eggs my girls lay for me everyday, I'm sure I'll be using every recipe in that book!
Here's the link on amazon if anyone else is interested:
"The Fresh Egg Cookbook..."

She also has a yummy recipe for Rum Rice Pudding, but that's another story.

So, Popovers. Why are they so good? For me, it's partially the memories that go with them. Those Sunday mornings and fun with my best friend.

What are they? I'll let wikipedia explain. Again, that's why they get the big bucks. ; )

Here's a great blog with Julia Child's popover recipe
the author of the blog obviously loves them as much as I do! Great photos, too.

To begin, you can NOT-I repeat NOT- make good popovers without the correct pan. You just can't. Believe me, when I moved here I tried. It was sad. Don't do it.
Sur La Table (mine and Susan's fave) have a wonderful selection. You can even get the mini pans. I want the mini one...just don't have it yet. Put it on my wish list! Let me know if you need my shipping address...
; )

You'll notice a few differences in the recipe I used (from Hobby Farm's article that featured the Fresh Egg Cookbook) and the Julia Child recipe. I never used the Julia one, strangely, since I adore her...
as I mentioned, I was quite religious with using Alton Brown's recipe. If you google "popover", Alton Brown's name comes up in the results, so he's doing something right with it! Seems everyone loves his recipe.

Since I have my own fresh eggs every day and right now I have 3 dozen in my fridge, I decided to make some. Quelle disaster, I misplaced my magazine, but after frantic searching I found it. I saw the recipe over a month ago and have been dying to try it. I know...I know...if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but I still like to try to find the best of the best. I think the author of the book would LOVE to hear that I think her recipe blows away Alton Brown's!!! I think Bobby Flay should have them do a  popover THROWDOWN!

I didn't originally plan on blogging about this until I saw all the "never had one", "what's a popover" type comments on my facebook picture, so I didn't photograph the whole thing, only the result, which was phenomenal. So I apologize for lack of  ingredient or steps photos.

3 tbsp. butter, chilled
4 eggs
1 & 1/4 C. milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 & 1/4 C all-purpose flour, unbleached
1/4 tsp. salt

(*adding in my own notes)
Preheat oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Butter a 6 cup popover pan  (*if you over-butter or over-grease sides, I've read they don't rise as well. Mine did fine today, even though I went against my usual judgement of NOT buttering my non-stick pan)
add 1/2 tbsp of chilled  butter to bottom of each cup and put pan in oven until butter melts (*I only added a tiny 1/2 tsp)
Beat eggs until foamy using an electric mixer (*Alton says use a blender, which I've used in the past. I liked the blender, but this time I used my hand mixer. worked just as well.)
Beat in milk and melted butter and reduce the speed to low. Add the flour and salt and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Fill prepared popover pan cups 3/4 of the way with batter, bake 35-40 min. until puffed and well-browned. Serve immediately.   (*mine were ready right at 35 mins.)

One step I always do (courtesy of Mr. Brown) is to take a chopstick (or a straw, even a knife tip) and pierce the top of the popovers immediately after you remove them from the oven. This allows the steam inside them (which made them rise) to escape. If you let it escape after baking, it keeps them from being over-wet inside and collapsing into a soggy, sad-looking thing.
If you did everything right, they'll disappear before they can collapse!
I find they're so addictive, you can eat one, then another, then another...
I also drop a dollop of butter right on top after piercing them so it drips down inside the popover and when you bite into it: buttery goodness!

There are tons of variations of popovers...sweet, savory...if you google them, you'll see what I mean.
I've NEVER made a savory popover, although they sound pretty good. I saw one recipe that included cheese and chives and it sounded like a great alternative to biscuits with dinner. I've just never made them yet. I'm sure I will someday. I'm just so addicted to the plain old, original popover that I can't have them any other way. The simplicity of 5 ingredients is just sublime. Why muck it up?
This is the infamous, now aptly named "What's a Popover" photo. Get a pan, make some. Enjoy.
I quote my hero, Adrian Monk, "you'll thank me later".

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