Gruyere and Black Pepper Popovers
Not too long ago, I finally decided to give in to something that I had been fighting for so long. Something that I feared would suck me further into the world of the interwebs and the hours of time-wasting that goes with it. And sure enough, after I joined, what I was afraid was going to happen, happened. But, sometimes, wasting time on the Internet isn’t as bad as it seems. Sometimes, that time-wasting leads to some amazing discoveries. That’s what happened to me. So what was it that I gave in to? Pinterest. Pinterest is an online virtual pinboard where you can collect ideas and images from all over the Internet and pin them onto boards that you create in order to organize your thoughts. It’s through Pinterest that I happened to stumble upon a recipe for something I knew I wanted to make, and I knew my husband would love.
Onto an online virtual recipe sharing and storing service called Tastebook, I came across someone who saved a recipe for Gruyere and black pepper popovers that looked and sounded absolutely amazing. I believe, ultimately that the original recipe comes from a neighborhood establishment called Foreign & Domestic Food and Drink located in Austin, Texas. Wherever the recipe originates from, with a few tweaks on our end to adjust for our tastes, it’s absolutely fantastic and super easy to make.
The popovers necessary ingredients are a popover pan (preferably), salt, coarse ground black pepper, Gruyère cheese, milk, all purpose flour and eggs. Simple ingredients for an incredibly flavorful side dish that when done right is just amazing.
Start by heating the popover pan in the oven at 375 degrees. As I’ve learned from several different popover recipes, one of the keys to getting your popovers to “pop” over and rise correctly is to actually pre-heat your popover pan with your oven. This will begin the cooking process of the popovers as soon as you pour the batter into the individual muffins.
Next, let’s prepare the ingredients while the popover pan is getting warmed up. Measure out a cup of milk. We used 2% milk, but I’m sure you can use whatever milk you have around. I don’t think it’ll make a difference.
And a cup of all purpose flour.
You’ll need 2 whole eggs, which you can crack into a large mixing bowl which is where you’ll make the batter.
And of course, you’ll need Gruyère cheese. In this case, a little cheese goes a long way. Remember, Gruyère has a very strong nutty flavor and has salt in as well. You really only need about 1/2 ounce of cheese per popover. Each of those little squares is just under 1/2 ounce.
Since I cut 8 squares, since it was easier with the block of cheese I was using, and only needed 6 squares since that’s all my popover pan will accommodate, I shredded the remaining 2 squares of Gruyère. Since shredded Gruyère tends to melt and soften quickly, and since the baking process for the popovers takes 45 minutes, I took the shredded cheese and stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until it was needed. We’ll be using the shredded Gruyère to garnish over the baked popovers when they come out of the oven.
To get started, pour the milk into a saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove on a burner set to medium-high heat. You’ll want to start watching this after 3-4 minutes as you want the milk to get hot, but not boiling. Essentially, once you start to see tiny bubbles around the edges, you can turn off the heat.
While you’re waiting for the milk to get heated, add salt and coarsely ground black pepper to the mixing bowl with the cracked eggs. You’ll need about a quarter of a teaspoon of salt – remember not to over-salt the batter as the Gruyère cheese is also salty. You’ll need about 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper. The amount you use depends on your tastes, we like black pepper but only used 1/4 teaspoon and discovered that it was too little as we would have liked to taste the black pepper in the finished product a bit more.
Whisk all of the ingredients together. The more you whisk, the fluffier the eggs will get because you’re putting more air into the batter, which will help your popovers rise.
Once the milk is heated, slowly add the milk to the egg mixture. Be careful not to curdle the eggs by adding the hot milk too quickly to the egg mixture. You can prevent curdling by slowly streaming in a little bit of the milk at a time while constantly whisking the egg mixture. As the warm milk gets added to the egg mixture and then incorporated in, it’ll slowly raise the temperature of the egg mixture and prevent the eggs from curdling.
Once all of the milk is incorporated into the egg mixture, it’s time to add the flour to the batter. At this point, you don’t want to overwork your batter. Just whisk the flour into the egg and milk mixture until it is just combined and comes together to form a batter. If the batter is lumpy, don’t worry about it.
At this point, your oven should have come up to 375 degrees and the popover pan should be heated through. Take the popover pan out of the oven, thoroughly grease each muffin cup and begin pouring the batter into each of the muffin cups. You should fill the muffin cups about 1/3 of the way to the top. These things will rise, so don’t overfill your muffin up and end up with popovers that are so tall and heavy the sag over and flop.
When the batter has been poured into the popover pan, it’s time to added the chunks of Gruyère cheese that we sliced up earlier. One chunk of cheese goes into each muffin cup, right in the center. Just drop it in there and let the oven do the rest of the work. One note, while it turned out fabulous this way, I think that the next time I make this, instead of one chunk of cheese into each muffin cup, I’d cut the chunk into 3 smaller cubes and then distribute the 3 smaller cubes into the muffin cup so that the Gruyère spreads out more over the popover rather than being concentrated in the center.
When the popover pan is ready, it goes back into the oven for 45 minutes. While you may be tempted, don’t open the door to the oven, not even a crack, once the popovers have gone in. By opening the door, you let in cool air and the hot air of the oven escapes, which will automatically make your popovers either not rise very far, or deflate immediately, from which it won’t recover.
After 45 minutes, you’ll see that almost half the volume of the popover has exploded over the top of the muffin cup. This is exactly what you’re looking for. The popover will stand nice and tall, but be completely airy and almost empty inside. This is a perfect popover. Remove the popover pan from the oven, and take the Gruyère that we shredded earlier and sprinkle it over the top of each of the popovers. The heat from the popover will melt the shredded cheese into an ooey goodness.
Remove the popovers from the popover pan and serve immediately. You’ll notice that the second you take the popovers out of the oven, they’ll begin to deflate. Don’t worry, this too, is normal, unfortunately. Since the popovers are hollow inside, once the hot air starts to escape the inside cavity, the popover will settle and deflate a little. Unfortunately, there’s just nothing you can do about it. But once you take a bite of these puppies, it won’t matter that the popover will have deflated a bit.
These Gruyère and black pepper popovers are absolutely to-die-for. Not only is the recipe super easy, the popovers come out so yummy you’ll have to keep yourself from gobbling them all up in one fell swoop. Or resist the urge to make another batch of these A-S-A-P. These really are that good. As soon as you tear open the popover, the aroma of the nutty, melted Gruyère hits your nose and your mouth starts to water. The minute you taste the popover, you’ll be wanting more and more. I can’t believe I never discovered these gems before. But you can bet now that I know about them, I’ll be making them all of the time!