You’re French aren’t you?: BLT’s Popovers.December 13, 2006
Even the name “popover” sounds like an invitation to eat. And who could refuse, really?
These roly poly, inflated and chewy bread rolls were the conversation starter at a meal my husband and I ate at a swanky French bistro-cum-steakhouse in DC called BLT Steak (for Bistro Laurent Tourondel…. Steak). Comically large and mishapen, with balloon-like tops crusted with baked on cheese, they also came with a meaty salt shaker and — we were told — special European butter that is 98% butter fat. Yes, please!
I liked them well enough in the heady atmosphere of a swanky steakhouse, but would the novel recipe conjure similar culinary magic in our humble abode? Answer: Yes, and then some.
Following Tourondel’s gratis instructions, my husband concocted these beauties in our very own oven. And maybe it’s just my bias talking (he is my husband, after all) but I think they were even more delightful than the restaurant’s. (Sacre bleu!) The popovers weren’t quite as dark brown and crusty, which to my mind is a good thing, and I could eat them with something besides steak. (Because I don’t think popover when I think steak.) Instead, they were properly golden brown and delicious, chewy on the inside and with a more cheesy and less eggy bread interior.
Am I saying that my husband made better popovers than Laurent Tourondel — using the chef’s own recipe? Well, if a wife can’t say it, then who will?
We don’t do restaurant reviews. I mean we could do restaurant reviews. We like to eat out. We’ve hit the big DC places (Citronelle, Minibar, Charlie Palmer Steak…). We even considered it early on. Yet, we ditched the idea when we started because eating out for us is a time to enjoy. We did not want to worry if we remembered all the details, or if we tanked a restaurant because it was just a bad night. Yet, here I am with a big name restaurant’s recipe, and I’ve no qualms about cooking their food and telling you what I think. Fortunately for them, it’s all good.
For some context, BLT is a group of restaurants that began in NYC with BLT Prime, BLT Steak and BLT Fish. Recently, Chef Tournedel brought DC BLT Steak which is located on Eye Street in Northwest. Seeing that it’s only three blocks from the White House and K street, I suspect this is an ideal location to find tourists, lobbyists, lawyers and politicos.
For those of you who don’t know DC restaurants, bringing a steakhouse to DC, even a good one, seems risky. Because if the nation’s capitol had an official restaurant, it would be the steakhouse. I suspect outside of Manhattan, no other place has a higher concentration of high-end steak slingers than DC. In addition to multiple forms of the standard bears, Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s, we have a number of others who are both local and national. So, if you are here visiting and can’t find a properly cooked hunk of beef, I recommend you walk a few blocks and you’ll find some place who is doing it right.
So BLT Steak falls into the group and does a good job. I don’t want to go into it too much, but I recommend the creamed spinach. One of the fun surprises for me was that the bread basket was replaced with warm popovers. So what made it fun for me other than eating them? They place the recipe right on the plate. It was an open invitation to now criticize them from the confines of my own kitchen! I mean it was inviting me to take them on. If I can do Olive Oil Bon Bons from Minibar, I can do baked goods when they give me the instructions.
So how did it go? Great. I agree with my wife that I think they were even better at home. I’m not sure whether it has to do with pride of workmanship or the fact I was crafting a much smaller batch, but the results seemed better coming out of my oven. The popovers are tasty and tangy with a cavernous center and chewy, crusty texture. The recipe itself is extremely easy to follow and requires only a decent amount of time for them to bake. I will definitely be reusing the recipe and encourage others to try it as well.
Finally, I just want to remind you this is not my recipe. While most everything we do at MHC is my own, this one is definitely not and is copied verbatim from BLT’s recipe. So if you pass it along please make sure you credit the original source. Thanks and enjoy!
Yields: 12 to 14 popovers
4 cups milk (warmed)
8 large eggs
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
1. Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350F.
2. Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside.
3. Whisk egg until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs). Set the mixture aside.
4. Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth. Once the mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
5. Once combined remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable spray. While the batter is slight warm or room temperature, fill each popover cup with 3/4 full.
6. Top each popover with approximately 2 1/2 Tbsp. of grated gruyere.
7. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking.
8. Remove fro the oven, remove from the pan and serve immediately.