A good friend of mine, author of the food blog Sweet Little Joys, shared a delicious chive and Parmigiano-Reggiano popover recipe with me from the cookbook Back in the Day Bakery: Made With Love, by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day. I made a few minor adaptations, swapping cheddar for Parmigiano-Reggiano and using a muffin tin rather than a popover pan. Popovers, an American riff on Yorkshire pudding, are simple to make, requiring only one bowl and very few ingredients. They manage to puff up in the oven without the addition of leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder. An article in the Scientific American offers an excellent description of the chemistry behind popovers:
“The liquid in the batter evaporates rapidly (thanks to the high heat) as it bakes and produces steam, which is trapped into a giant bubble by the web of glutens, starches, and proteins also contained in the batter. Because that web forms so quickly, it prevents the steam from escaping, so the roll literally ‘pops’ over (hence the name) without bursting, guided by the shape of the deep container cups.”
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated cheddar (the original recipe calls for Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and grease a medium-sized, 12-cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk for one minute, until frothy. Stir in flour and salt. Mix in cheese and chives.
Pour into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.* To prevent popovers from collapsing, use a knife to cut a hole in the side of each popover.
*Note: the original recipe calls for baking the popovers for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then lowering the temperature to 350 degrees and baking for another 20 minutes. Though I somehow managed to misread these directions, I was very happy with the results of the shorter baking time.