Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year—the Popping of Champagne and Popovers

As usual, we ended the year with a nod to tradition, a casual, largely pick-up meal that is as good today as it was in the 1960s—a quasi-steakhouse dinner of London Broil, wedge salad with a ranchy blue-cheese dressing (Maytag, of course), some very exuberant, gigantic popovers (you want lots of bursting things for New Year’s), champagne, and some apple turnovers made of leftovers—leftover puff paste, leftover almond pastry cream from a Pithiviers. And on New Year’s Day for breakfast, we enjoyed the fruits of end-of-year labor:  homemade tamales filled with shredded pork in a rich ancho-cascabel sauce. Next to apple pie, my favorite thing to have for breakfast. And my son’s very favorite.

How could 2013 not be a good year?

Use your ancient cast iron popover pan unless, like mine, it went missing in one of your moves; an aluminum popover pan; or, better yet, some 6-oz ceramic custard cups. Put your popovers in the oven while your meat is resting. Serves 6.

1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup whole milk
3 T butter
3 eggs
big pinch salt

Preheat oven to 450F (use an oven thermometer), placing the rack in the lower third of the oven. Generously butter the pan or custard cups, placing cups on a sturdy sheet pan.

Whisk the eggs well, then whisk in the milk and melted, mostly cooled butter. Whisk in the sifted flour and the pinch of salt.  You can make this a few hours ahead; it will be like a thick crepe batter.

Place the pan/cups in the hot oven for a minute or two, then give the batter another stir and pour it in:  do not fill more than a scant 2/3. Bake for 20-30 minutes until huge, dry, and very brown. Do not open the oven while baking!

Serve immediately with lots of soft plain or flavored (e.g., fruit puree, herbs) butter. They will not be quite the same, but you can store any leftovers (ha) in a plastic bag, then reheat in the toaster oven until they have crisped up.

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