For me, Yorkshire Pudding is the ultimate comfort food. As a child my sister and I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and we were the apple of her eye. She gave us a greatly needed sense of security when our parents were going through a messy divorce and our worlds were turned upside down.
We spent most Saturday nights staying with her and we always had frozen shepherd’s pie and baked beans for supper, followed by banana custard. As you may have surmised she was not a natural cook. She had worked all of her life as a midwife and nurse and was often on the night shift. I guess time to cook was a luxury she had never had so the shepherd’s pie was frozen, the beans from the tin and the custard was Bird’s and we loved it! Always the same meal and with it came feelings of familiarity and comfort.
Sunday, however, was a different story. She did a mean roast. When I was younger, I think we had beef one week, lamb the next, followed by chicken. Always fabulous and plentiful! But as she got older, the lamb and beef weeks became fewer and far between and it became chicken every week. This was not for economical reasons. I think, with age, it must get harder and harder to do the associated multi-tasking that comes with cooking a roast, particularly the last twenty minutes or so of cooking. A cooks repertoire gets smaller and smaller as they age. So we ended up with chicken every week because it was easier. My sister and I, however, demanded that we have Yorkshire pudding with it. We could do without the beef and lamb but not Nana’s Yorkshire pudding. So, it became the norm to have both roast chicken and Yorkshire pudding every Sunday. To be honest, now that I look back, Nana’s Yorkshire pud did not rise greatly. It was, in fact, rather greasy and there was far more of the centre stodgy bit than the crispy outside. It didn’t matter. To us, it was delicious. No Sunday was complete without it.
As I got older, I spent fewer Sundays there. Inevitably, as a teenager, I had better things to do. Friends to see, boyfriends to take up my time and hangovers to get over. I still went over on a Sunday once a month or so. When I met my husband and we became quite quickly serious, suddenly family seemed more important too. So the visits became more frequent again but the food had rapidly gone down hill. The veg became more and more limp and over cooked, the roasties were hard, brown, crispy bullets and the Yorkshire was a thing of the past. My mother started helping out more and more when she was allowed too. I do remember one Sunday when we were served particularly anaemic chicken. We didn’t have much of an appetite that day. It wasn’t many weeks before we discovered that Nana had a brain tumor. She only lived another three months and I think that was her last roast.
So for me the roast is special. I don’t do it every Sunday but I probably do one every week. And nearly always with Yorkshire pudding. Now, my children wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes, though, when I’m doing a middle eastern leg of lamb with couscous and salad I have to explain that I just can’t serve Yorkshire pud along side. It would be wrong! The quid pro quo is that sometime during the week I will make them a mini pud to go with sausages and mash instead.
Each time I make it I return to Nigella’s method from ‘How to Eat’. It is backward in its method but it really NEVER fails to rise. The key points to take from the recipe are a really hot oven, as hot as you can get it, really hot oil and putting your oven shelf low because this thing really does rise high. I have made that mistake and had to peal it off the top of the oven! I have halved the recipe for a smaller version and I have added half again for a bigger dish and it still works beautifully. It also works well for individual puddings. The photo I took was actually not one of my best. They do get higher. If I do another one in the next week or so, I will go for it and show you the Yorkshire in all it’s glory. Just so you understand how good this recipe is, I must tell you that I have, on occasion, had a round of applause as I brought it to the table. It’s that good and as you can see from the photo of the recipe, it is definitely tried and tested! I urge you to try it this Sunday, or any day, with whatever roast takes you fancy!
- 300ml Milk
- 250g Plain Flour, sifted
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp or so of Oil or Dripping with a high burning point. Groundnut oil, beef dripping or duck fat are all good choices.
- Pre-heat the oven as high as it will go. At least 220c.
- Mix the eggs and milk with some black pepper and a scant 1/2 tsp of salt. I, like Nigella, use my KitchenAid mixer.
- Let the mixture stand for at least 15 mins and then whisk in the sifted flour.
- Meanwhile put the pan or oven dish with 1 tbsp oil or dripping into a very hot oven.
- Allow the oil to heat up until it’s sizzling and then quickly pour the batter into the tin.
- Cook for 20mins.
- ‘Bring it, triumphant, to the table.’
Enjoy, Kate x