Popovers and Memories

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In case you don’t know, a popover is made from a thin batter that cooks in hot oil in muffin tins like this. You add the oil to the bottom and heat it first and then add the batter. Done right, you get something that is mostly crispy exterior with a lot of air and a little dough in the middle. The same batter can make Yorkshire pudding but I’m not going to get into a discussion about the differences.

Mom used to make these every once in awhile. It tended to be when she was doing a big roast beast and she’d actually use the beef pan drippings instead of cooking oil. I guess the type of cut was something fancy and so it was saved for special occasions which she would usually comment on when serving it to us. For the record, I always preferred the popovers.

It lead to another family joke among the four of us because we seem to remember that she’d say something like “we haven’t had this in 17 years” every time she made the special roast beast. She may have said it once but, like all jokes, it is funnier if you only use a small amount of the truth.

Last Christmas, my brother found a box of Yorkshire pudding mix. (OK it was really to make popovers but I’ve already said I’m not diving into the Yorkshire pudding/popover thing). He did this as a gag gift and included several other food items like a lemon poppy seed muffin mix. The back story to that one is that in later years, Mom would complain about always having to make a chocolate cake for us ungrateful children and how, just once, she’d like to make something different like a good lemon poppy seed cake.

Funny thing though, I actually made a batch because my wife was curious and it turns out that she’s a big fan. Something about the crispy outside and lack of a doughy center that hit what she was looking for in a bread like item. Sadly, the lemon poppy seed muffin hit the trash during a kitchen clean up in the spring. But since we knew where he purchased the popover mix, we have gone back for more.

Fast forward to June when we were going through my parents things. Mom did have a popover pan like the picture above showed but I think it had been disposed of over the years. But there was a cast iron muffin pan with space to make 12 muffins which is exactly what the mix makes. Needless to say, I quickly claimed that item and brought it back with me.

And it has been put to use. When we were going over menu plans for the week, my wife was in the mood for chili but then she said she wanted to have popovers with them. Now, everyone knows that cornbread is really the only thing that goes with chili but she didn’t grow up here so I have to cut her some slack. If she wants popovers with her chili, then she shall get popovers with her chili.

That’s when I finally read the box. After you mix the batter and preheat the pan with the oil in the cups, it stated to confidently pour the batter into the muffin cups”. I was struck by the use of “confidently”. How does one pour confidently? What would the opposite be? Anyway, I tried to pour as confidently as I could and they did turn out just fine so I guessed it worked.

Turns out the joke was on my brother. His gag gift turns out to be something we enjoy. I mean cornbread would have been a better choice but the popovers weren’t bad.

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