Yorkshire Pudding is a savory, bready baked good, popular throughout the United Kingdom, composed of eggs, flour and milk. It's usually served as a starter or side dish to juicy meat, like roast beef or prime rib.
Once called "Dripping Pudding," Yorkshire Pudding used meat drippings from a cut of beef that dripped as it was cooked over a fire. A pan was placed under the meat to catch the drippings, which were then used to flavor – or make a gravy for – the pudding. The first documented mention of dripping pudding was in the presumably edifying, "The Whole Duty of a Woman," published in 1737, though this preparation was likely prepared for centuries before.
Making a Yorkshire pudding is amazingly easy: beat 2-3 eggs with a cup of milk and then slowly whisk in a cup of flour. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan with either warm butter or beef fat (some say if you don't use beef fat, all you've got is a popover); warm the butter or beef fat in the oven for a few minutes, then pour the batter the muffin pan. Put the muffin pan in the oven and cook for 5 minutes at 375, then reduce temperature to 350 and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the puddings are golden and crisp.
Unlike the old days when people used absolutely every edible item from a piece of meat, wasting nothing, most of us don't keep jars of rendered fat on hand. To get the fat I needed for my Yorkshire pudding, I bought some beef bacon from Finn's at the Oak Park Farmer's Market. Sheila Essig, who sold me the bacon, selected a rasher with a lot of fat; just what I was looking for. As we've discussed in these pages, there are lots of different kinds of bacon out there, and this beef bacon looked like brisket shavings, unsmoked.
In addition to making Yorkshire pudding in muffin forms, which is how it's usually prepared in restaurants, I also made it in what may be the more traditional way. I put rendered beef fat in a pan, poured the batter with beef bits on top of the hot fat, and then cooked the whole shebang. This yields a sheet of luscious pudding, rich and satisfying.
Technically, Yorkshire pudding with meat is Toad in the Hole, which contains sausage or any stray meat you have. When you add meat, your Yorkshire Pudding/Toad in the Hole can be a main course all by itself. And like last night's pizza, it makes a perfectly suitable Sunday morning breakfast, right out of the refrigerator.
Much baking relies upon getting the chemistry just right for the baked good; with Yorkshire Pudding, there's no such exactitude. Use fewer eggs, substitute water for milk, it doesn't matter. You'll still get a tasty pudding. This was an old-timey way to use what you've got to make something delicious, so there's a lot of room for variation.
Somewhat surprisingly, Yorkshire Pudding Day is an international phenomenon. In the United States, we celebrate the Yorkshire Pudding on Saturday, October 13.
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