I’m feeling nostalgic for Memphis.  Always happens at about the three-and-a-half-month mark.  After that much distance, I start craving all the regulars:  pulled pork sandwiches, dry-rubbed ribs (which I attempted to make myself last week, with surprising success, whee!), fried catfish, everything my mother makes, and popovers with strawberry butter.


Hmm.  These not exactly what you think of when you think of Memphis?  Let me explain.

Growing up, there was a “default” fancy restaurant, reserved for birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations: Paulette‘s in Midtown, an oak-paneled kind of place with a live pianist and French-inspired menu of crêpes, steaks, and other old-school fare.  Just the kind of place to make young girls feel very grown-up and sophisticated; an excuse to wear your party dress.

I haven’t been to Paulette’s in many years, and really the only reason they occupy an important place in my arsenal of culinary memories is because of their popovers.  Instead of a basket of bread, Paulette’s would (and I hope they still do) offer up baskets of hot popovers with strawberry butter.

Oh yes oh yes oh yes.

Have you ever had a popover?  Or is it just a Memphis thing?

popovers 2
Conventional wisdom on popovers has long argued that they are fussy and high-maintenace, but that’s never been the case for me.  In a stroke of what I can only classify as foresight genius, I clipped the Paulette’s recipe for popovers out of the local Memphis paper while I was in high school.  I didn’t even cook then!  In fact, it was probably about four or five years until I even tried the recipe–by then, I was far from home and nostalgic for its tastes.

This recipe has never failed me.  You do have to follow the specifics (pre-heating the pan, using room temperature eggs), but it’s not necessary to use a popover pan the way some people think (a muffin tin works just fine, thankyouverymuch) and the finished product is supremely satisfying.

What does a popover taste like, you might ask?  Like a very eggy-but-not-chewy pastry, crusty on the outside and airy on the inside.  Serve them with strawberry butter, like they do in Memphis.

In just about a week, Jill and I will be driving up to my hometown for a visit.  When we cross the bridge from Arkansas to Tennessee over the big, muddy, ugly Mississippi where my father’s ashes were spread, I will cry.  I’ll weave through the streets of Memphis, which I can navigate like I can’t anywhere else.  Jill and I will eat our way through the city, and through my mother’s two (count them, two!) refrigerators, which she will have stocked for our arrival.

That’s how I’ll know I’m home.

Coming up Tuesday is the next installment of our Summer Classics Series: key lime pie.  Ohhhhhh yeah.  Until then, try these popovers for a lovely weekend brunch.

NO-FAIL POPOVERS546958620_dsc_0032
Paulette’s Restaurant, as printed in The Commercial Appeal many years ago

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbsp oil
3 large eggs, AT ROOM TEMP
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup milk

pan: muffin tin, well-greased

oven: 415° F.

Place muffin tin in hot oven.  Sift together flour & salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk milk and oil together.  Slowly mix milk-oil into dry ingredients with a spoon until creamy smooth.

Add eggs one at a time; this will take some patience!  What you want to achieve are ribbons of egg in the batter.  After all the eggs have been incorporated, stir mixture for 2 additional minutes.  Remove warm muffin tin from the oven, filling each cup ½ full.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the popovers while still hot or they will stick to the pan!  Perfect served with strawberry butter.*

buttered popover 2
*Strawberry Butter

Mix together equal parts softened butter & strawberry preserves.  It really is that easy!  Of course, with strawberries being so lovely right now you could do something more homegrown: wash & chop strawberries, pat dry.  Place them in a bowl & sprinkle sugar over them, letting the mixture sit for an hour to release the juice.  Blend the strawberries with an equal amount of softened butter.

Either version of strawberry butter will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer indefinitely.  Just make sure you soften it again before you want to use it


11 responses to “NO-FAIL POPOVERS

  1. I am up very early this morning and saw your post. I am quite tempted to try this right now, but may wait until the weekend since I will pickup some farm fresh eggs on Saturday. These popovers just sound yummy.

  2. Thanks for the recipe. I agree popovers from Paulette’s are very good. I’m from New England, and have always known popovers. I remember that it was served with roast beef au jus. Sometimes it was served as “Yorkshire pudding” rather than baked as individual “muffins”.

    • bluejeangourmet

      Cal–I hope you tried the popovers with your farm-fresh eggs! that’s the best.

      memphisweaver–thanks for visiting me and taking the time to comment. I’ve read about the term “Yorkshire Pudding” before but never heard it used down here in the South. I can see how popovers would make excellent bases for roast beef sandwiches; I may have to try that if I can break myself from the tradition!

  3. Best popovers I’ve ever had are at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park in Maine. Thanks for the recipe – I’m going to try making them!

    • bluejeangourmet

      hi Martha! so glad you found Blue Jean Gourmet–hope you enjoy the popovers, and I look forward to seeing you around!

  4. Wow. I made these on Sunday, and then Patrick and I ate ALL of them. While they were still hot.
    (We didn’t have strawberry preserves… we used raspberry. Yum yum yum.)

    • bluejeangourmet

      Amy, I’m so glad these turned out well for you (& Patrick!)…it’s great to get feedback on recipes. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: TAKING STOCK & MAKING SOUP « Blue Jean Gourmet

  6. Nishta,

    1) I’m SO glad Lauren introduced us to your blog! You are just as amazing as I remember.

    2) I know you posted this like 6 months ago but I couldn’t help replying now…

    3) I crave these things and am so glad to have a recipe. They still serve them and I try to get there for Sunday Brunch whenever I’m home.

    4) It’s so nice to know that somebody else’s memories of Memphis are wrapped-up in food and family. I never know who I’m more excited to visit – my family or my favorite restaurants.

    ~Sara Beth (Dike) Frye

    • bluejeangourmet

      asincerelove–whatever I can do to remedy this, I will! you must, must, must, must. how did you get away with making it through high school & college without having to read this?!?

      Memoria–there’s nothing better than homemade spaghetti & meatballs! and your meatball sandwich sounds delicious. with an English professor for a mother, I’ll bet you’re very well-read 🙂

    • bluejeangourmet

      Sara Beth! It’s so great to hear from you! Thanks for taking the time to post, it’s great to have feedback and especially to know that others share such distinct memories of those popovers. I haven’t been to Paulette’s in years, but these taste just like I remember.

      Thanks again for your kind words–
      take care!

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