Friday, December 29, 2006

A simple transitory pleasure

Posted By on 12.29.06 at 10:52 AM

By far the happiest square inches of Christmas-dinner real estate for me this year were in a block of just slightly unpuffed Yorkshire pudding, soaking in hot flavorful prime rib juices tipped right off the meat platter. Absolute heaven.

Perhaps you've made Yorkshire pudding before, but if you haven't you might be surprised at the sheer simplicity of it. It's a transitory pleasure--Yorkshire pudding is at its absolute best for about two triumphant minutes right out of the oven--and usually requires spending major Benjamins on beef to have the 1/4 cup of drippings you need (actual YP ingredients cost maybe $1). But those two minutes are definitely worth the minimal effort. 

In my family we use a variation of the recipe in the New York Times Cook Book:

• Once the roast is out of the oven and resting, crank the temperature to 450° F. Take 1/4 cup of the drippings, swirl them around a clean 11 x 7-ish pan, and pop it in to heat. 

• Combine 2 eggs and 1 cup milk. Sift 1/2 teaspoon salt into 1 cup of flour and add to the eggs. Beat as long as you want, at least until well-incorporated--this isn't pancake batter. It's Christmas--maybe there's a fight you're trying not to have? Or some tight-lipped silence to endure? Either way, batti, batti!

• Take the pan out of the oven (with a mitt) and pour the batter in, being careful not to splatter yourself. Return pan to the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the YP is satisfyingly puffed and golden.

• The trick at the end is to make sure the YP doesn't get too brown on top before the batter in the bottom of the pan (where it can stay a yummy but flat, dense, eggy thing) has a chance to cook all the way. This has to do with the size of the pan, too. Don't be afraid to let your pudding get high and dramatic--it increases the chances of it being done all the way. And don't worry if it doesn't--the best YP is thwacked into pieces right out of the oven and immediately soaked in meat juices that hasten its collapse anyway. YUM.

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