“Half memoir, half travel, A Yank Back to England...is an absolutely wonderful book, not only about going home again but also about love and family and tradition and the passage of the years.”
—Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic (Washington
To see the entire quote, click here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The proof is in...

Apparently, Yorkshire pudding first came about, not surprisingly, in Yorkshire, in Victorian times when meat was scarce and people were poor. Puds were served as a first course to fill people up. Today, things are a little better, and nothing is better than a slice of rare beef with a Yorkshire pud. Yum, yum! What a combination. Here’s a surefire way to bake the perfect Yorkshire Pudding.
First off, equipment. The last post showed three pudding pans; the best of these is the one with shallow oval bottoms (the one from Mummy-in-Law). If these pans cannot be found, try small cupcake Pyrex glass containers. Alternatively, you could use a single roasting or pie pan, which will produce one large pudding. This looks quite spectacular, but I feel individual puddings are more fun and you get more crispy bits.
Yorkshire pudding is essentially a batter recipe. People add things like parsley, and thyme and rosemary, extra pepper, even bacon. Jacques Pepin adds leeks. I’ve tried all these additional ingredients and, personally, I feel none add a hill of beans of difference.
The key ingredient is the type of fat you use. The best puddings are made in beef fat, ideally rendered from your Sunday rib roast. But standing rib roast is a big treat in the Prodigal household, so for a non-holidays feast, we use eye of round, a lean cut with very little fat. So I conserve fat from previous meals. Let me explain.
If you’re having a steak or even a stew, just trim the fat, and wrap and freeze it. When you have a bit of time, render your collected bits of fat in a little water. You’ll need about a teaspoonful of fat per individual pudding dish, and what you don’t use can be safely re-frozen (as it’s now cooked). Alternatively, rendered goose or duck fat is delicious too. The key thing is: these fats have loads of flavor and can take high cooking temperatures.

Prodigal Puddings
This recipe makes eight individual puddings. In the Prodigal household, we are only three, but some of us love a second pud. And so will you! If you have leftovers, worry not––cold puds are great topped with your favorite jam as a breakfast treat.
Right, let’s get to it. Before you do anything else, prep your pudding (or Pyrex) pans with a teaspoon of fat in each hollow.
Now make the batter. Combine 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, a cup milk, and a 1/4 cup of water in a glass bowl. We use skimmed milk but use whatever milk you have on hand. Now, add two or three eggs, one at a time. Whisk by hand or machine until everything is nicely incorporated. Then whisk some more. I whisk for the count of sixty. I’m looking for a part-bubbly, fluid mixture. At this point, add some pepper (and other items from above list if you must). Then cover your bowl and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour. Because I get flummoxed when I cook, I’ve been known to get my pudding mixture ready before the meat is even in the oven. It matters not. Just make sure the mixture sits for at least half an hour.
When your roast beast is ready, remove it from the oven, cover, and let it rest. Now crank up the oven to 450 F degrees. Put your pudding pans, with fat in the hollows, at the back of the oven. When the temperature reaches 450, check your pans. The fat should be smoky hot. If not, wait another minute or two. Close oven. Remove pudding mixture from the fridge and whisk quickly to re-incorporate everything. Have a small ladle handy; I sometimes use a 1/4 cup measure.
The next step is important.
Open the oven and slide out the rack. Don’t removes the pans. Ladle the batter mixture into the hot pans right in the oven. Work as briskly as you can. When the pans are filled, gently push back the rack and close the oven. After 15 minutes, reduce oven temp to 425 and cook puds for another fifteen minutes. Then reduce oven temp. to 350. Within the next 10 minutes, depending on the ferocity of your oven, your puds will be baked and ready. Do check, during this final ten minutes, if the puds slide freely in the pans, they’re done.
I switch off the oven at this point and let the puddings be while I carve the meat. I spread the meat on as large platter then garnish with the puds. There is no more sublime a sight! Traditionally, we anoint the hollow of our puddings with gravy. Or not. Either way is lovely.
Enjoy your Yorkshire Puddings!


Bee said...

I'm the other way around: an American who has to come to live in England.

As for Yorkshire puddings, I can make a good one -- but rarely do, as I'd rather have dessert. (This is an incredibly well-detailed guide, though.) Sadly, so many of my favorite foods were devised in a time when people needed bulking-up calories!

Limey said...

You have no idea how much I love Yorkshire puddings! I really do! I have recently become obsessed with making toad in the hole and enjoying the Yorkshire pudding base to that. YUM!

willow said...

I tasted my first yorkshire pudding in London, and I'll have to admit I wasn't immediately won over. Yours look perfectly delicious, though! I was hoping we would see the finished product in those pans.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm yorkshire pudding is one of my favorites! My nana made the best!

I try not to make it since they're so fattening. Once I tried to make it with PAM - a non fat spray. Talk about revolting! They were like little hard salted balls. :P

Ian said...

In many Yorkshire pubs they serve Yorkshire pudding and gravy. The Yorkshire puddings are huge and there's lashings of gravy, but it's bloody good business for them: almost 100% profit. Personally, of the great Britsh puddings, I prefer black pudding.I crave that stuff and every time I go back to England it's one of the first things I buy.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Hello Bee--a Yorkshire pud can be a great dessert,just add some sliced apples and raisins and sprinkle with sugar. Serve warm.
Limey!--You're a lass after my own heart. In the Prodigal household we have a toad every couple of weeks, with salad on the side if we're feeling guilty.
Willow darling--do try the puds in this recipe. Puds in pubs in Blighty can be a bit iffy I must admit, unless you go to Simpsons! Frances says there's a pan for muffin tops, have you seen that?
Trixie!-- You are so lucky! You must make them the way your dear old Nana made, I wouldn't dream to compete! But no Pam!
Ian, Ian, Ian!--You've been away too long mate, isn't black pudding a blood sausage or boudin noir as delicate Southerners like me would say?

Amy said...

You said 'crispy bits' and after that, I just kinda blanked out. mmm- crispy bits.

My WV today = kingsmob. Hee...

Cheryl said...

My sister has made Yorkshire puddings in regular muffin tins (following a Nigella Lawson recipe, I think) which seems to work just as well. And yes, oh my gosh, they are delicious! I want to get tins, Yorkshire or otherwise, for myself now.

Denise said...

This looks absolutely fantastic. My favorite pud! Thanks for sharing all the great info too. I have a hankering to make this now.

smitten by britain said...

I just had Yorkshire pud yesterday and I love it. Can't wait to make it at home for my son. Where have I been and why have I not caught on to your blog before now? I've got a lot of catching up to do. Really good stuff.

Chiara said...

I've never had one. :( Maybe when I go back! Or maybe I could make some.

Afternoon Tea Break said...

I shall have to try this recipe out for myself. I absolutely adore Yorkshire Puddings, they're my favourite food, but I tend to stick to Aunt Bessie's Ready-To-Bake puds! Though I must say that pic is making me hungry!

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Aunt Bessie? Oh, hopefully not... Do hope you all try recipe,definitely a favorite around here. The piccie may be nice, but wait till you taste them... then let me know!

ideal holiday said...

I think crispy or soft is a matter of taste. We're evenly split in my family - I like the middle :-)