Monday, October 19, 2009

The Beef Chronicles: Classic Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

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...

Rosemary & Dijon Roast Beef with Red Wine Jus, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Baby Carrots & Brussels Sprouts, Yorkshire Pudding

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.
Oh. My.Word.

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?

Yorkshire Pudding

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!)
Here is the recipe from Joy of Cooking; it is the same one we always used when I was growing up. You may want to double it; they disappear pretty fast.

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
2 eggs
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.

Serve immediately.

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

sea salt

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
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


Anh said...

Your Yorkshire pudding rises so high! I love this meal!

Maria said...

I've never had yorkshire pudding. I think I need to try it!

muzzyblue said...

Your timing is impeccable. We were just talking about how to cook a roast in the traditional British way, with roasted Brussels sprouts and Yorkshire puds!
Thank you for providing such clear instructions. I'm really looking forward to trying this!

Angie said...

Thanks so much for this recipe! I have been wanting to make Yorkshire pudding, but have been afraid, I am going to try it, thanks for all the tips!

mlindley said...

This meal looks wonderful, but I was secretly hoping you would share some tips for the Brussels sprouts : ) I am trying to learn how to enjoy them.

kimberleyblue said...

I’ve never actually had Yorkshire pudding, but judging by these photos and your description, I’ll definitely have to remedy that. It sounds sooo fantastic!

AOK said...

I'm wishing I had asked for more roasts... and will now be dreaming of red wine gravey! Thx.

Melissa said...

I have never had yorkshire pudding. Roast Beef looks delicious.

You mentioned the boys have not yet had an appreciation for meat. Neither does my 13 month old. He will not eat any form of meat! Well, except for that ladybug at the park the other day.

Maybe one day!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Yorkshire pudding? I'd always pictured it as...well...pudding. I'll have to give these a try. Great tips!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

This definitely reminds me of my childhood growing up with plenty of Yorkshire pudding and Worcestershire sauce.

NKP said...

What a wonderful classic meal!
I love yorkshire puddings, my hubby makes wonderful ones.

Aimée said...

Hi Anh- Thanks! I got lucky this time.

Hi Maria- What? You have to try it, you'll love them.

Hi Jane- Great! hope you find this post helpful

Hi Angie- Have fun! Hope you try it.

HI Michelle- Oops! These are blanched first, then pan roasted with butter.

Hi Kim- Oh gosh, you gotta give them a go. They are amazing.

Hi Andrea- There's always next time..

Hi Melissa- Lol, they are slowly getting better, but it's taken a while.

Hi Lynn- Nope not pudding-like at all. It's airy, light & crispy. Heavenly!

Hi Val--Indeed, good times, good memories

Hi Natashya- Oh, lucky you!

Barbara said...

Yorkshire pudding is wonderful, that's for certain. I've always loved it with roast beef.
My mother used to make it with sausage- I think the English call it Toad in the Hole. But she made it in a big iron skillet. I posted the recipe a while back- I still make it off and on. The kids love it. It's basically a popover batter.

Anonymous said...

I ALWAYS tell my kids that bit about getting their heads chopped off by the queen - and although my mum is British I don't remember her ever telling us anything like that!

Jackie @ Lilolu said...

This looks fantastic! I will be trying this recipe soon.

Lo said...

Beef & Yorkshire pudding always screams "Christmas" to me. Love the puds... and leftover beef roast? Well, who can argue with that?

Emily said...

Goodness gracious this looks good! Perfect for the upcoming holidays.

Two Minute Takes said...

Your "British" dinner looks great and reminded me of when my Father used to make Yorkshire Pudding. I have always loved it! My Dad used to grease the muffin tins with Crisco (I now use PAM) and line the bottom with drippings from the roast. He always had light and airy Yorkshire Puddings and the beef drippings gave them such a wonderful flavour.

Sara said...

That roast looks amazing! We are actually doing a roast beef dinner tomorrow night for my Aunt's 70th birthday and I have been put in charge of the Yorkshires, as my mum's tend to turn out like "hockey pucks"(her words!) I am pretty particular about how I make them, and the only thing I think I do that was on your list is to heat the oil. I don't do anything at room temp and use a different recipe. My goal is always a crispy outside, a fluffy inside and a well in the middle for gravy :)

Melanie said...

Ah - your grandmother would be proud - she could make a yorkshire pudding like no one I know way back when Aimee was in the high chair (rather than under it).
Your recipe is identical to hers with a few minor exceptions but all the key points.
So as new as this may seem to some - it is very much a an old family favorite that all should enjoy.

Evelyne@Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Ah, so reminiscent of Sunday dinners. YP are not part of my heritage, not British blood here, but roasts I had a many served to me as a child. I have to make these YP though. Thanks for all the great tips.

Miranda said...

That was one of my favorite meals growing up...brings back memories. I used to scarf down as many yorkshir puddings as possible!


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