As much as my dad encouraged my sister and I with our ethnic cooking experiments while we were growing up, I think he always secretly held a special place in his heart for all things British. Born in England to middle-class city folk, he grew up munching biscuits for tea and pudding for dessert. Although he gave us a cookbook entitled "Cooking Around the World", I imagine he much preferred classic feasts such as Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding for the way they reminded him of home, feasts similar to one I prepared recently...
If it wasn't for us buying half a cow from a local farmer, I probably wouldn't have roasted a chunk of beef all fall, nay, all winter; there just isn't much point in preparing roast beef for two people (and until the boys learn to properly appreciate good meat, they don't count). But when the butcher called me and asked what sizes I wanted my roasts, I started salivating, remembering the dinners of my youth; remembering Yorkshire Pudding...
What wonderful, crispy, eggy bites they are! Almost reminiscent enough of choux pastries to warrant filling with cream and dipping in chocolate. But instead they are popped piping hot out of the pan onto the dinner plate, cozied up between the beef and the mashed potatoes and doused in gravy.
Noah couldn't keep his hands off of them, stuffing one after another in his mouth, and asking for thirds with his mouth full. My dad used to tell us that if we were ever invited to dine with the Queen and we used bad table manners, she would order our heads to be chopped off.
She certainly wouldn't have been happy with Noah.
I may have been pleased that he was actually enjoying my cooking--if I wasn't feeling so guilty that I had never served my (newly) four-year-old Yorkshire Pudding. Have I taught him any appreciation for British cooking? I have to wonder.
At any rate, it was a ship-shape meal, one that I will be making variations on all winter long. Hey, I've got that freezer full of beef, remember?
In theory, the method is simple, but in the past I have not always be blessed with YP that rise beautifully and crisp up perfectly. After some Twitter q & a, I concluded the following:
- Ingredients must be at room temperature when they are mixed.
- The batter should be chilled after mixing for at least an hour before baking.
- Batter should be poured into a hot pan that has been well lubricated with hot grease.
- Since they will start to deflate as they cool, Yorkshire Pudding is best served warm from the oven.
- Cook should have some British ancestors (kidding!)
Makes 1 dozen.
Sift into a bowl:
7/8 cups of flour 1/2 tsp of salt
make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, into which pour
1/2 cup milk
Stir in the milk. Beat until fluffy
Beat them into the batter. Add:
1/2 cup water
Beat the batter well until large bubbles start to rise to the surface. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400F. Remove batter from fridge and beat well again. Generously butter 12 muffin tins and place in the oven until butter is sizzling. Remove pan from oven and pour batter into each cup. It should be about 5/8 inch high.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 250F and bake 10 minutes longer, or until golden brown. You may need to raise the pan to the top shelf of the oven to get a nice browning on the tops.
Rosemary & Dijon Roast Beef with Red Wine Jus
This is really just a very long name for what is one of the simplest main dishes around. In case you don't believe me, here's what I did:
1 3-4lb roast*, I used a Sirloin Point Roast
several springs of fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons dijon, I used grainy
fresh black pepper
An hour prior to cooking, remove beef from fridge and pat dry with paper towel. Allow to sit at room temperature.This helps shorten the cooking time.
Preheat oven to 425F, I like to start my roast at a high temperature to sear it. Line a casserole or roasting pan with a wire rack (like a cookie cooling rack) and place the beef on it. Brush or rub mustard generously all over the meat and tuck rosemary sprigs into the sides by pushing them under the strings. Season with salt & pepper and place in oven.
After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350F. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 125F. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and the meat will be more tender. It will continue cooking as it rests and will reach the ideal internal temperature of 135-14oF (medium-rare).
Carve into thin slices and serve with Red Wine Jus.
Serves 4 with a few leftovers.
*Remember, cooking times will vary depending on the size, cut and quality of your beef.
Red Wine Jus
Now, pan gravy is obviously the best way to go, IF your roast actually produces any drippings; however, mine never do, especially not these lean, locally raised Angus yearlings and so here's what I do instead...
Oh, and since this is already an epic post, I'll add a word about the wine, because it was fabulous. I opted for a bottle of the California Collection from Beringer, a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Super affordable, it rounded out the jus nicely and the remainder was superb with the meal.
There, your free wine tip of the day.
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 teaspoon dijon
1 package beef 'au jus' gravy mix ( I used Knorr)
1/4 cup chilled butter, cubed
The packaged gravy usually calls for 2 cups water, but we are replacing some of it with wine.
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the wine, water, packaged gravy mix and dijon. If you did get some drippings from your roast, add those too.
Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally, until it thickens slightly. at this point you can take it off the heat until you are ready to carve your roast beef.
A minute or to before you are ready to serve, bring jus back to a low boil. Whisking constantly, add the butter, a few cubes at a time, until all the butter has been added. Continue stirring until jus takes on a glossy sheen. Season with pepper and pour into gravy jug.
Serve at once. Makes 2 cups