The Food Desert Project: Tuna and Sweetcorn Popovers

The Food Desert Project: Tuna and Sweetcorn Popovers

Yes, the Hays family are anglophiles -so, I’ve created this amalgom of traditional British recipes.

The UK has more than its share of odd contributions to world cuisine: Stargazy Pie (which Sparky refuses to allow me to make!) Jellied Eels, Oggies and Kedgeree to name a few.  Yorkshire pudding or popovers seem positively ordinary in comparison…and, indeed, we love “batter puddings” of any kind, particularly if they are filled.  Popovers are extremely easy: an equal volume of eggs, flour and milk, blended and poured into well-greased hot molds (whatever you’ve got: ramekins, muffin pans, popover pans) and baked at a high temperature until puffed and golden.  They can be filled before or after they are baked with whatever you like.

In the food desert, we needed to be a bit inventive to fill our popovers: fortunately for us, during the time of the last Olympics in London, Britain was suffering economically and its’ cooks had to become extremely creative, and thus was born the simple sandwich filling of “sweetcorn” and tunafish.  Traditionally, about all there is to it is a drained can of tuna, a drained can of corn, enough mayo to bring it together and you’re done: a wartime meal.


4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Oil (I used olive oil, but butter or vegetable oil is probably better) to grease molds

1 tbsp minced dried onion
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp white wine
1 can tuna*, well drained
1 can corn, drained and rinsed OR 1 3/4 cups frozen corn, drained and thawed
1-2 tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

First, mix your onion, parsley and white wine and put it in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Set aside.

A mise-en-place is critical to the success of this recipe: have all your ingredients out and premeasured so you can work quickly.

008Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Grease a muffin pan thoroughly with oil, leaving a small puddle in the bottom (do NOT skimp on this step, even if you have a nonstick pan!)  Put your pan in the oven to heat up the pan and the oil while you work.

Put the eggs, milk, flour and 1/2 tsp salt in the blender.  Pulse on low speed until combined, and then blend on high until fluffy and completely combined.  Set aside.

009Drain the onions and parsley. In a small bowl, combine them carefully with the corn, tuna, salt and pepper (lightly break up the tuna but try to leave it in large chunks.)  Add just enough sour cream and parmesan cheese to bring it together.

015Bring your batter and filling near your oven.  Carefully, using oven mitts,  remove your preheated muffin pan and set it on a heatproof surface (I set mine on my stovetop.)  Fill each cup about half-way with batter.  Top each with a scant 1/8 cup of filling (it will sink, don’t worry.)  Carefully, again with oven mitts, replace your muffin pan in the oven and let it bake for 20 minutes.

Your batter will puff up and surround the filling somewhat like a piecrust, and the hot oil will help keep it from sticking to the muffin pan.  Allow your popovers to cool for about 5 minutes, then, running a knife around the outside edge, lift them out of the pan onto your serving dish.


* I have taken to using canned goods with no added salt; sometimes you can find or request these even at places like drugstores.  Beyond the possible health benefit, I’ve found that lower-sodium canned foods seem to break down less during processing than their traditional counterparts – and this is especially the case with tuna.  If you can’t find tuna without added salt, that’s fine, but you may want to reduce the salt in this recipe.

Filed under: Pantry cooking, Recipe

Tags: lunch, popovers, tuna

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