On the very first day of my very first visit to Europe, I was walking around bleary-eyed and jet-lagged in London. My flight had arrived at 7 a.m., and as it was too early to check into my hotel, I stowed my bags and just wandered around gazing at the sights. Finally, 11 a.m. arrived, and that meant the pubs were opening. It was time for my first beer in the U. K.
I found a little pub near Saint James Square called The Red Lion. It was tucked away in a little alley, and was quite tiny itself. I believe I was the first customer of the day. Well, I'd planned on having just one beer and heading to the hotel, but you know how it is, one beer led to another, and soon I was chatting away with some of the Londoners having their lunch.
The Red Lion Pub, with its proprietor (left) and a patron (June 1994)
As I chatted with one businessman bloke who was downing the beers on company time faster than me, I saw a waiter walk by with what looked like some sort of a steaming bowl of stew, and the bowl was made out of some bread-like substance. I asked the local man what it was. "Yorkshire pudding," he said. I ordered one--it was divine. I can still taste that beefy, bready "pudding," which the pub had filled with roast beef, veggies and gravy.
Now, here in The States, pudding is a sort of sweet, creamy paste-like substance that we eat for dessert. But in the U.K., its more of a savory puff pastry made from flour. A traditional accompaniment to roast beef. I think I like theirs better.
I started making my own little Yorkshires a few years ago, and the wife and I always enjoy them with our roast beef. They are simple to make, I discovered, and always come out delicious.
1.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rendered beef fat or lard
Note this baby calls for rendered beef fat. Not really something you have lying around, I know. If you don't, you can substitute lard, but the Yorkshire Puddings will come out a bit different. (more on that soon) For me, when I smoke a brisket, I always save the beef fat that renders out for other uses. After the brisket is done, I chill it in the fridge, and the fat rises to the surface of the surrounding area and solidifies. I then break it off in chunks and freeze it til I need it.
Smoked Brisket--note the fat that has rendered and solidified around the meat when it cooled. I used to throw this out. Not anymore. Now I break it up in chunks and freeze it for future use.
I can tell you it makes some flavorful Yorkshire puddings. (also great for frying or roasting potatoes)
Anyhoo, to start, mix the flour and salt, then add milk and mix. Beat eggs in separate bowl then whisk into flour mixture. Mix in water. Let this sit for over an hour.
When ready to cook, place about a teaspoon of the beef fat (or lard) in each cup of a muffin tin.
Place this in a 500 degree oven for a few minutes to heat the pan and drippings. Then open the oven and carefully ladle the pudding mixture into each cup. Fill each cup about halfway full. (these babies will expand!)
Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes, until puddings are literally popping out of their cups.
Earlier, I mentioned that using beef fat vs lard will produce different results. Well, that happened for me, anyway. With the lard I got a lighter, fluffier pudding that tasted fine but was maybe just a little more bland than with the beef fat. These are pictured in the photo above and also below:
With the beef fat I got a denser pudding that didn't puff quite as much, but it had a great beefy flavor that was accentuated by a hint of smoke (this was smoked brisket fat, after all) These are pictured below:
Either way you make them, be sure to serve them with a nice beefy main course like Roast Beef.
I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to make some larger puddings in pie tins and serve the roast beef inside them, just like I had in London all those years ago. I'll report back when I do.
Until next time,