My oldest sister and I were chatting early on Christmas eve morning. I told her of the very fattening feast I was planning to cook that evening. It consisted of prime rib and other delicious things, and I also planned to make popovers. She countered that Yorkshire pudding was far more traditional. I argued back that I had brand new fancy popover pans and wanted to use them. When we were kids our mom made both popovers and Yorkshire pudding with some frequency. They were special treats, and we all loved them both. To me, popovers always seemed a little fancier.
That night I did, indeed, make popovers, and they turned out quite well. If you have never made them, they consist of a thin batter made from eggs, milk, flour and a little salt. Popovers are made in pans similar to muffin tins, greased with butter. The batter for Yorkshire pudding is about the same, but it is cooked in a larger pan (like a cast iron skillet) which contains some of the fat and drippings from the meat. Traditionally the "pudding" was cooked to absorb the fat from the roast-on-a-spit meat, and it served to fill up hungry farm workers on inexpensive baked batter before they dove into the expensive meat portion of the meal.
The magic of both of these is that they puff up with no leavening. The outside is crisp and golden and the inside moist and tender. It is best eaten hot out of the oven, and (in my opinion,) dripping with butter.
We have a bit of the delicious prime rib left over, and are enjoying it so much. Tonight I decided to make Yorkshire pudding, while the taste of popovers was still fresh in our memories so we could compare.
I think I will need to do further tests to compare. Lots of them. Maybe once a week! Stay tuned.