Monday, December 27, 2010

Yorkshire Pudding

Though the centerpiece of our Christmas dinner table has always been a roasted prime rib of beef; the highlight and family favorite, is the Yorkshire Pudding.  My husband contends, it wouldn't be Christmas without them. 

These tasty little bread-like puddings, originated in Yorkshire, England, in the early 18th century.  Called dripping puddings, because they were made with the fat drippings from roasted lamb, and beef, they've become a staple on English menus. 

4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup fat, rendered from a roast beef or lamb, or from suet*

Note:  It's often hard to gather 1/4 cup of drippings from a roast beef these days, especially if you intend to make pan gravy.  I ask the butcher for a piece of suet (beef fat) and melt it in the oven for my pudding.  You can freeze the leftover suet for future use.  If you are really opposed to using beef fat, you may substitute vegetable oil.  Your pudding will be almost as tasty as if you've used beef fat.

There are several tricks to making Yorkshire Puddings.  First and foremost among them, is timing.  You must time your dinner perfectly or else you'll be serving either cold, over-cooked meat, or deflated puddings, as the puddings must be served immediately.  If you've a double oven, no problem.  Here's what I've done when only a single oven is available:
Since your batter must be room temperature before baking, I like to wait until my roast is just about cooked, and I remove it from the oven to rest on a carving board or warming tray (tent with foil).  The roast will continue to cook another ten degrees while resting, so remember to count the resting time in with your roasting calculations.
Now, you begin cooking the puddings.  While they cook, prepare your pan gravy, and lastly, carve your roast beef (or leg of lamb).  When everyone is seated, serve the puddings, hot-out-of-the-oven!
Directions for preparing batter:
One hour before baking, whisk together the eggs and milk until frothy, and well blended.  Whisk in the flour, one cup at a time until all lumps are gone and the mixture is thick and frothy.  Set aside, at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes.

To bake:
There are two ways to proceed from this point.  You may either bake one large pudding in a 13 x 9 casserole dish, or individual puddings (popovers) in muffin tins.

For the 13 x 9:  pour all of the fat into the casserole.
For the popovers:  divide the fat into either 6 large muffin cups or 12 regular size muffin cups.  I really like the larger cups for popovers because you really get a good healthy portion of pudding.

Place casserole/pan in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until smoking hot (watch carefully so you don't end up with an oven fire).

Remove from oven, and pour batter into the fat (divide evenly among muffin cups).  The batter will sizzle and begin to rise slightly.  Immediately, place in the oven to bake for about 30 to 35 minutes.  Keep an eye on the pudding so it doesn't burn.  The finished pudding should be golden brown and very well-puffed.

Serve immediately or else the puddings will deflate.  If you need to buy a few minutes, turn the oven off, and leave the pudding in the oven with the door slightly open.  Hurry!

The large pudding is best cut into rectangles and served with gravy.  Popovers are to be split and filled with a good size dollop of roast beef gravy.  Mmmm!  There's nothing better!

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