Friday, September 24, 2010

Parmesan, Herb, and Garlic Popovers . . . When Inflation is a Good Thing!

Until I made these fragrant parmesan, herb, and garlic popovers a few days ago, I'd only experienced one other kind  before. Those were the popovers of my childhood. They were richly brown and very crisp, with a bright yellow interior. Egginess abounded, one might say. We poked holes in the tops as soon as they were done, and ate them just after they stopped steaming. With soft salted butter and strawberry jam, those were classic storybook popovers.

I don't remember anyone except my mother and I liking them, so we were typically the only ones around when we baked them. Because I hated eggs as a kid, and anything that obviously contained them, I wasn't crazy about the moist innards. I'd sort of peel away that doughy membrane and concentrate on crunching the shiny shell.

My fascination with popovers likely had more to do with their form than anything else. The way they'd inflate in the oven, like hot air balloons preparing for take off, astounded me. Our huge white stove--the kind with an oven that required holding a lit match above the flow of gas--didn't have a window, and I recall my mom explaining the necessity to refrain from peeking while the popovers baked. Emerging from the heat, they were wondrous oddities, quite unlike any food I'd ever seen.

Now that decades have passed and time has modified my negative opinion of eggs, I figured it was time to take on a new and different popover recipe. This one, which I adapted from chef Kevin Garvin's beautiful book Neiman Marcus Taste: Timeless American Recipes, produces a startling contrast to the popover I'd known before.

Besides the inclusion of grated parmesan cheese, dried herbs, and garlic, this popover is by comparison positively "bready" inside. The hint of egginess is still there, but it's only a hint. There is none of that overly moist, stretchy stuff to contend with once you break one of these open. The outside of the popover is just as crisp and burnished as one could want. Oh, and these smell magnificent while they're baking.

Probably not something you'd necessarily want to serve with breakfast, these are a perfect partner to a hearty salad or a bowl of soup at lunch. Or, they can accompany dinner if you like. I served them for supper, warm in a basket, alongside tri-color tortelloni in marinara sauce, with a tossed salad.

I have only one bona fide popover pan (got it from Williams Sonoma--these babies aren't very easy to find, nor are they cheap!), with six cups, but the recipe makes twelve good-sized popovers, so I decided to bake half of the batter in jumbo size muffin cups. Those didn't rise as high as their brothers in the official pans, but they were equally delicious. (Though traditional popovers don't freeze well, I froze the leftovers, and I've reheated these in the oven with great success. They crisp up again very nicely.)

These are really, really good. Give 'em a whirl, if you're so inclined.

Parmesan, Herb, and Garlic Popovers

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

3 and 1/2 cups milk (I used 3 and 1/4 cups of  2% milk, and 1/4 cup of half and half,  since I didn't have any whole milk)
4 cups All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. dried mixed herbs (I used 1 Tbsp. parsley and 1 Tbsp. thyme, along with one quick grinding of black pepper. Fyi, the original recipe called for dried rosemary as well, which I chose to omit. The original also called for a total of 1/4 cup dried herbs--I thought that sounded like far too much so I cut the amount in half, and I'm glad I did!)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed garlic (depending on how much you love the stuff!)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 12 equal chunks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease 12 popover cups or jumbo muffin cups; grease the top of the pan(s) as well. Place each pan on a baking sheet.

In a saucepan, heat the milk until it's just lukewarm, about 110 degrees, then take it off the heat.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.

In the large bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the wire whisk, beat the eggs on low speed for about 3 minutes, until they look pale and foamy, then add in the warm milk. Add the flour in gradually, still mixing at low speed, then raise the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.

Let the batter rest in its bowl, unrefrigerated, for one hour. While the batter is resting, mix together the parsley, thyme, and pepper in a small bowl, then mix the garlic into the herbs. Grate the cheese and mix that into the bowl as well.

After the batter is done resting, fill each well-greased cup with batter, almost to the top.

Sprinkle at least one tablespoon of the cheese-herb mixture on top of each one. Plop a chunk of butter on top of that.

With the pans on baking sheets, place the popovers into the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Bake 30 to 35 minutes longer, or until the popovers look very crispy and are a deep golden brown on the outside. Don't peek at them while they're first baking if you can help it; wait until they've been in there a while. As soon as you take them out, puncture the tops carefully with the tip of a knife; this will allow excess steam to escape and help prevent the insides from becoming soggy.

Best served warm, right after they're made. You can freeze any extras after they're cooled. Reheat them easily, even if frozen, in a warm oven. They'll be almost as good as new.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Danielle said...

Hm, i've never tried popovers before. They look really good though.

Cheryl Kohan said...

I will definitely be making these, today. It's cold, windy and rainy and a perfect soup day...these popovers will make the meal perfect. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Those look like something from a magazine, how lovely!

June in Ireland said...

Beautiful photos, as always. I've made something similar to this, in my regular sized muffin tins, as I've not yet come across a jumbo sized muffin tin in any of the shops here (I'm always looking in homeware type shops for new and neat stuff to bake with or bake in). This post and recipe and great photos have inspired me to try this recipe out today, for dinner, as it's quite chilly and I think this'll warm us up nicely. Thanks Jane!

likemamusedtobake said...

They look so delicious. Popovers haven't reached Irish shores yet but I tasted them in BLT on a trip to NY last year and they were so amazing. I have made them since and they are delicious but unfortunatley I can't find a popover pan here so have to use small terracotta pots. A popover pan is top of my shopping list for my next trip to the states. Can't wait to try your recipe.

adrienzgirl said...

I have never made popovers before, and to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever tried one either.

They look and sound AMAZING!

I made soft dinner rolls(first attempt) this week, and I inadvertently left out the eggs. The rolls turned out soft and wonderful despite my oversight.

I'm going to try these in muffin tins. I hope they work.

La Table De Nana said...

They look stupendous to say the least!

Jane said...

Hi Danielle,
I'm coming to find out that lots of people have never tried popovers before. They're worth taking for a test drive, just so you can see how they rise if nothing else! :)
Thanks very much,

Hello CherylK,
Yep, that sounds like the perfect day for baking popovers. I would love to hear how yours turn out, and how you like them, if you do indeed bake this recipe.
Jane :)

Hey there Jennifurla,
What a sweet thing to say! Thank you!
:) Jane

Hi June!
I'd also love to hear how you like this recipe. I was pretty surprised by how bready the insides were, since that wasn't what I'd expected, but it's kind of like the best of a muffin mixed with the best of a classic popover. Thanks again for visiting and always saying such nice things, June! You're a peach.
:) Jane

Hi LikeMamUsedtoBake,
I am kind of surprised to hear that! For whatever reason, I'd always figured they probably originated on your side of the pond! Hmmm, I'll have to do a little research. ;)
Many thanks,

Hello Adrienzgirl,
Congrats on making those dinner rolls! Isn't it amazing how sometimes baked goods come out fabulous even if you don't necessarily end up following the recipe? I love it when that happens! I am sure these should work for you in muffin tins. I hope you like them, if you do try them.
Keep on baking,
Jane :)

Hi La Table de Nana,
You are too kind! ;) I am so glad you think so and so glad you visited. I need to hop on over to your blog now. I am due for a visit there! :)

Cyndy said...

Oh how beautiful these look! I haven't tried them but will now. I took didn't care for the insides of baked goods much either as a child and always ate the outside or crusts, I love browned crusts

Anonymous said...

Wow! These popovers look amazing!

scrambledhenfruit said...

I've never made popovers- I'd love to try these!

cocoa and coconut said...

Nostalgic cooking is the best. It really roots us and reminds us why we love home-made goods. Your popovers look fantastic! I love the herbs involved...the the eggy texture sounds dreamy. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and the memories tied to it said...

Never made pop over before but sure yours look really good. I think this maybe something that will have to go on my to do recipe list, gosh how many recipes to do and how little time :-)

Anonymous said...

popovers are inherently delicious, but adding parmesan, herbs and garlic might just push them into the insane category. what a great idea! if you're looking for more flavors perfect for popovers, we make one with lemon zest and black pepper. to die for.



Amanda said...

These look delish, love that pan!

Nic said...

Oh wow, they look great! Have bookmarked for the future.

Mags @ the Other Side of 50 said...

That's it, I'm getting one of those popover pans. I've been eying them in the King Arthur catalog for a long time now and after seeing this recipe, I have to give it a try!

Hanaâ said...

I've never had popovers before. Yours look great. Very tempting!! I love parmesan cheese and herbs together. Maybe one of these days I'll buy me a popover pan and give it a go (I'm sure my husband would be VERY happy about me buying more pans, haha).

Roadtrek Girl said...

I haven't made popovers in forever but you've encouraged me to dig out my pan...this look fabulous !

kelly said...

I've always been fascinated with popovers, too, and think the first time I made them was in a junior high home ec class. How ancient is that? These sound so delicious!

cocoa and coconut said...

Hi there,
I've given your blog a mention on my blog because as part of the "One Lovely Blog Award" bloggers must identify a blog they think is lovely and I thought of you. You can read more about it on my latest post.

Carolyn said...

What a fun idea, and they look delicious! I've never seen a pan like that before!

Cheryl Kohan said...

Hi again! I DID make these and they were fabulous! A big hit with the hubby, too.

I cut the recipe in half, however, because I just have one popover pan and there are only two of us here, anyway. It worked perfectly. I did put rosemary in the mix, too. Chopped it really fine and only used about a teaspoon along with the thyme and parsley and pepper.

This recipe is a keeper! Thanks for sharing it.

Lisa | Authentic Suburban Gourmet said...

OMG - I want one of these right now! I have that popever pan and need to make these pronto! Thank you for sharing!

Herbowski said...

Interesting article. I've been adding herbs myself to a variety of recipes, for a longer period of time. Some herbs can can actually treat and prevent many diseases for which most people would use pharmaceutical products. Thereby, one obtains an additional benefit as well.

Nance said...

I made these and they came out great, froze the extra and it tasted perfect reheated.
I looked up other recipes and they say to preheat the pan so going to try that this time. Thanks for an amazing recipe.