After a happy childhood on his parents' farm in upstate Smyrna, New York, Charlie Palmer enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America with the dream of becoming a chef. Fast-forward a few decades: His coast-to-coast restaurant empire now includes hot spots in Manhattan, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Married for 19 years and the proud dad of four sons (Courtland, 18, Randall, 17, and twins Eric and Reed, 14), Charlie relishes holidays at home in Healdsburg, California. "These popovers remind me of my mom and are perfect for a full house," he says. Breakfast, anyone?
Charlie Palmer's Cranberry and Chestnut Brioche Popovers
Makes 12 popovers
3 cups whipping cream
6 large eggs
Salt and pepper
Pinch nutmeg and cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1-pound day-old brioche bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup roasted chestnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine cream, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add dried cranberries and brioche cubes and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow bread to absorb egg mixture.
2. Add roasted chestnuts, parsley and sugar. Spoon mixture into 12 greased muffin tins. Bake until set, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Tip: The best way to serve these crowd-pleasers is with strong, freshly brewed java, says chef Palmer.
Family Circle: Even with your busy travel schedule, does your crew do the big family dinner thing?
Charlie: Absolutely. In fact, my wife Lisa and I go out of our way to make sure of it. My boys know they can bring anyone they want as long as they let us know ahead of time. The conversations that go on would never happen if we weren't all around the table.