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Yorkshire Pudding is the classic accompaniment to Prime Rib, as you probably know, especially in England. But you might never have eaten it, and might be surprised to learn that it is not pudding as we Yanks think of pudding. Over here, we call things like this popovers, except popovers are made with a little butter in the muffin tin, and Yorkshire Puddings are made with 1/2 teaspoon of melted fat from the roast.
They are easy to make, using a simple batter. You can make them while the roast rests on the cutting board and the oven is available for the puddings.
They need to cook at a fairly high temperature, so you need to turn the oven up after the roast is taken out. Also, you need to prevent them from collapsing when done, and you need to avoid overcooking or burning them.
The last problem is solved by starting them at a high temperature and turning the oven down during the baking time. This method, suggested by our friends at Cook's Illustrated, works very well.
The second problem is solved by poking a hole in the pudding immediately after removing it from the oven. This is not to let the steam escape, as some think, but to let air into the inside as it cools and contracts. If air can't get in, it collapses the pudding. A bamboo skewer is perfect for this, but use a long fork or anything else to poke a hole or two in the puddings after they come out of the oven.
Here's the recipe for
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Make the batter by lightly beating the eggs and mixing in the other ingredients. Don't worry about a few lumps. I make the batter in a pitcher, so it's easy to pour into the muffin tin later. You can also use a bowl and ladle; it's just not as fast.
If you are making a dozen puddings (my muffin tins each make six), you'll need to reserve two tablespoons or so of beef fat from the roasting pan. Spoon off the fat into a 1/4 cup measuring cup, or something similar, so you can use your 1/2 teaspoon measure to put some in each muffin cup. After you've added the fat to each cup, put the tins in the oven for a few minutes to get hot. (The fat may smoke a little.)
Take the tins out of the oven, close the oven door to keep it hot, and fill each muffin cup 1/3 full of batter. (Some recommend 2/3 full, but I wound up with huge puddings. You'll learn from experience how much to use.)
Put the tins back in the oven and after 20 minutes turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. After about ten more minutes, they should have risen and turned golden brown.
Remove them from the oven and immediately poke little holes in them. When time to serve, they should pop right out of the muffin cup. And onto your plate, and into the Au Jus, and into your mouth!
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