In a thread below someone suggested that I start my popovers in a COLD oven for best results. I have yet to try it, but if it works, I'll add it to my growing list of cooking techniques that sound screwy, but actually deliver phenomenal results. Here are three of my favorites:
1. Cooking thick steaks in a cast iron pan over LOW heat. Every cookbook seems to call for a blazing hot pan to create a good crust, seal in the juices, etc. But the lower heat causes a beautifully *carmelized* crust to develop (as opposed to a charred, *carbonized* crust), and you end up with a much wider band of pink, juicy medium rare meat (as opposed to a raw center and overcooked edges). First heard about this from Alain Ducasse's column in the NY Times, and then one of Jeffrey Steingarten's Vogue columns.
2. Scrambled eggs started in a cold pan. For years, I'd been getting inconsistent results with the hot-pan technique, and I never had the patience to do the James Beard method of cooking eggs in a double boiler for 40 minutes, stirring constantly. Nowadays, I crack 3 egges into a cold nonstick pan, along with 1/2 tbs butter and salt and pepper. Set pan over medium heat and stir constantly. After about 4 minutes the eggs turn out luxuriously creamy and tender. I got this idea from the Vongerichten/Bittman book "Simple to Spectacular".
3. Once-fried french fries. Instead of the usual two-fry technique, my current method is to cover the raw fries in cold oil and set over high heat. Remove fries when golden brown, before the oil temp exceeds 370F. It delivers a very slightly inferior result compared to the standard two-fry technique, but it's SO much quicker and easier. Credit to Joël Robuchon via Jeffrey Steingarten.
Any other ideas?