Fogo de Chao’s Cheesy Popovers

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Last evening, I had a food experience. Amber and I (and nine of our friends) went to Fogo de Chao in Chicago. “Fogo,” as we took to calling it, is a brazilian steakhouse where the waiters bring you slabs of various roasted meats and carve them onto your plate. A coaster to your right had a green side to signal to the waiters that you were ready for meat, and a red side to indicate you needed a break. I’d say it was a unique experience, but that would be selling it short.

First, we started with the salad bar. I got back to the table with my plate full of anything but salad. Shaved prosciutto, smoked salmon, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella, pickled hearts of palm, and so many other delights I could easily have made a meal of the salad bar alone.

At our table, waiters brought platters of mashed potatoes, candied plantains, and other savory treats. But we tried our best to resist, as we were there for the meats.

We couldn’t help but invent terminology to describe the sensation. Steve compared it to playing Tetris, where the meat was coming so fast we had to desperately find a way to fit it onto our plates and into our gullets before the next waiter would arrive with a top sirloin or bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Eventually, each of us would fall apart and flip our card to red to stop the onslaught.

Oak declared that he had the “meat sweats,” the meat fever we tried to ignore as we accepted slabs of garlic beef, leg of lamb, and delectable sausages washed down with my caipirinha.

One by one, the green and red cards stayed red and the waiters cleared the table.

Despite the river of meat, there was one particular item that continued to distract me throughout the night. Fogo’s cheesy popovers were one of many highlights in a night full of food memories. Cheesy and chewy and crispy and warm, these mini-popovers had great flavor and a texture I wanted to take with me.

So today, for my bread of the week, I decided to try and re-create the recipe. I found some copy-cat recipes but I didn’t have tapioca flour and of course I wanted to spruce it up a bit. I substituted a couple of things and added sharp cheddar cheese and garlic salt into the mix.

The end result was a bit blander than the restaurant’s original, but still delicious. The texture was just what I’d hoped, but the flavor could use some punch. I suspect a little more salt and parmesan cheese would do the trick. If you try these, let me know how they turn out for you.

Fogo de Chao Cheesy Popovers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded fresh parmesan
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or corn oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl until the batter in thin and smooth (think pancake batter).

Lightly grease (or use cooking spray on) a muffin pan (24 large) or (48 mini). I used 24 mini muffin cups and had enough for 11 full-sized muffin cups.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown.

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