Popover Sensation

A nondescript pastry gets gussied up

We're used to seeing popovers alongside meat–they are, after all, loosely based on Yorkshire pudding, a dish traditionally served with roast beef and made with meat juices and fat. But this formerly single-purpose pastry has picked up a few new and flavorful tricks.

At BLT Steak, popovers gain a stand-alone position: They arrive at the table in lieu of bread at the beginning of the meal. We dare you to resist them when they're dabbed with sweet-cream butter–which melts instantly into their still-warm folds–and a pinch of sea salt.

Chef Kelly Liken takes another tack with her golden popovers, using them for a decadent breakfast sandwich at her eponymous restaurant in Vail, Colorado. She capitalizes on their slightly hollow centers, filling them with additions like crisp pancetta, a fried quail egg and creamy hollandaise.

At Mercantile, a new gourmet market and deli in Hollywood, California, chef Kris Morningstar and pastry chef Joshua Graves went through dozens of herb-and-cheese combinations before settling on their sage, chives and Gruyère mashup (click here to download the recipe), which they sell daily at the store. It serves as a perfect roll substitute with a bowl of hearty soup. It's also terrific on its own as an indulgent snack.