I don’t really remember how I came to equate warm baked goods with apologies. But somewhere along the line I clearly did because now some of my closest friends do too. When my oldest son sunk his metal-clad, middle-school teeth (accidentally!) into a pal’s lily-white forehead during a pickup football game, I fell all over myself apologizing to the kid’s parents (some of my best besties). With the ink barely dry on his brother’s ER release form, their younger son looked at his parents and said, “We are definitely getting popovers tomorrow.”
And, of course, they were. I was up at the crack of something that weekend morning, rushing to get those babies in and out of the oven and onto their front porch before any of them woke up and remembered just how gruesome that accident had been. I’m not even sure my own kids got popovers that day, so heavily invested was I in the remorse baking.
But sometimes I remember how much we all love popovers (especially popovers without guilt). They remind me of long-ago Christmas dinners, when my mom would make popovers or Yorkshire pudding or sometimes both, and that’s really all many of us kids would eat (and eat and eat). They’re easy enough to make, though having the right pan is fairly important (you can make do with a muffin pan, but you’ll never get that giant crown that, you know, pops over).
Betty Rosbottom’s popover casserole dispenses with the special pan and turns the whole thing into a casserole. With mushrooms. Yum. So easy and so, so good. I certainly don’t expect further calamities that require remorse baking–who am I kidding? Of course I do. But next time, maybe I’ll use the popover pan to assuage my guilt and keep this baby for us. Of course, now I feel guilty for even thinking that.
“This dish makes a showstopper entrée for brunch, yet is quite easy to assemble,” Rosbottom writes. “The rich popover batter is poured into a casserole dish, rather than into popover pans, and rises dramatically up the sides of the dish while in the oven. Then, during the last few minutes of baking, a creamy sauté of mushrooms is added as a filling. Serve this unique popover with a hearty salad (sliced Belgian endive, red leaf lettuce, and walnuts, dressed in a mustard vinaigrette, work particularly well), along with a warm, crusty baguette.”
- 4½ tbsp/70 ml olive oil
- 1 lb/455 g brown mushrooms (cremini), thinly sliced through the stems
- 1 cups/160 g chopped green onions (including 2 in/5 cm of the green stems)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup/120 ml mascarpone cheese
- 4 tbsp/55 g unsalted butter
- 1½ cups/175 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1½ cups/360 ml whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- Grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, for sprinkling
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F/230°C. Have ready a 9-by-13-in/23-by-33-cm baking dish.
- For the Mushroom Filling: Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until any liquid exuded from the mushrooms has evapo¬rated, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the green onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until the green onions have softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, ½ tsp salt, and several grinds of pepper. Remove the frying pan from the heat and add the mascarpone, stirring until it has melted. Season the mushrooms with more salt and pepper if needed. (The fill¬ing can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and refriger¬ate. Reheat over low heat, stirring.)
- For the Popover: Put the butter in the baking dish, and put the dish in the oven until the butter has melted and is hot, 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add the flour to the egg mixture, whisking until no lumps remain and the batter is smooth.
- Remove the hot baking dish from the oven and, using pot-holders, tilt the dish several times to spread the butter evenly over the bottom. Pour the popover batter into the dish; bake 15 minutes. The batter will start to puff up around the edges. Reduce the temperature to 350°F/180°C, and bake for 15 minutes more. At this point, the sides will have puffed up around the edges of the baking dish.
- Remove the dish from the oven (close the oven door to maintain the temperature). Quickly spoon the mushroom filling over the bottom of the popover. Return to the oven and bake until the mushrooms are very hot, 10 to 12 min¬utes more.
- Remove the popover from the oven. With a sharp knife, cut into six to eight portions. Serve hot and pass a bowl of Parmesan cheese for sprinkling.