Popovers are another trademark food item—and the most recognizable—at Neiman Marcus restaurants. As we open new restaurants around the country, I always warn our chefs that they should never run out of popovers during lunch. Invariably, shortly after opening, they do anyway because they have not gotten the timing down yet-these popovers take almost an hour to bake and if you are not paying attention, you get caught waiting for them to finish. The worst sin a chef can commit at Neiman Marcus is to attempt to send out different bread to substitute for late popovers. I let them know that it’s better to tell our customers that the popovers will take a few more minutes, because they’ll prefer to wait. Popovers are best served straight from the oven. If you’re serious about perfect popovers, I recommend checking your oven calibration with an accurate oven thermometer. Remember that these popovers will rise by three or four inches, so make sure your oven racks are spaced appropriately.—Kevin Garvin
For the strawberry butter
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
1 cup good-quality strawberry preserves
For the popovers
3 1/2 cups milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Make the strawberry butter
1. Place the butter in the work bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high until light and fluffy. Add the preserves and beat until well combined.
2. To serve, spoon or pipe the flavored butter into 2-tablespoon ramekins or onto side plates.
Chef’s note: Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. This spread will last for two to three days.
Make the popovers
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
2. Place the milk in a bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.
3. Crack the eggs into the work bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color. Turn down the mixer to low and add the warm milk. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Turn the machine off and let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
4. Spray a popover tin generously with nonstick spray. Fill the popover cups almost to the top with the batter and place the popover tin on a cookie sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the popovers are a deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside.
5. Turn out the popovers and serve hot with strawberry butter.
Chef’s note: The key to making great popovers is having the eggs and milk warm before mixing. It is also important to let the batter sit for an hour before baking it. Popovers do not freeze well, and pre-made batter has a tendency not to work properly the next day.
Recipe © 2003 The Neiman Marcus Group. All rights reserved.