The holidays are almost upon us, and I am so excited. Yes, presents are fun, but oh my goodness – my family will be in town! And there will be so much good food! And relaxing and laughing and … well, it’s going to be good. We have various traditions: fondue on Christmas Eve, monkey bread and mimosas on Christmas morning, soup on Boxing Day. But perhaps the most hallowed and sought after food tradition would be the roast beast and yorkshire puddings on Christmas Day.
The creation of the yorkshire puddings themselves has always been a mystery to me. I never quite understood how they went from batter to delicious and airy popovers. My aunt who makes Christmas dinner even has fancy pudding pans that make large and wonderful puddings. If you’re this far into the post and going, “HUH???” I recommend reading this quick history first, and then coming back. The point is that my family is deep into this English tradition, and the puddings that are made are so legit that the Boy – being from the north of England himself – has given his blessing, and gone back for seconds on those puddings AND the roast beef.
Last year on Christmas we were at my aunt’s house first, and then went to visit another family friend who had cooked dinner and also made roast beef and yorkshire puddings. He mentioned it was his first time making them, and we asked what the inspiration was. It turns out he’d read a couple of blog posts – ones that I too had read and gone, “ooh!” over. This was part of “The Food Lab” column over on the Serious Eats blog. I like the column because the writer – J. Kenji López-Alt – goes in depth with each recipe he writes about, telling you the science reasons why certain techniques work, and then does the difficult job of testing out everything for you so that when he says, “The Best Yorkshire Pudding Recipe”, you know he’s right. He’s put in the work.
Since our friend’s puddings turned out so well, and because I wanted to make something festive and holiday-themed for my most recent potluck with college friends, I decided to find that recipe I’d drooled over last year and make it happen. As it turns out, making the puddings is not that difficult. It was hard watching the pans while I waited for the fat to smoke (I used shortening), but that could be remedied by actually checking inside the oven more regularly instead of just turning on the oven light. And when you’re adjusting your racks, make sure you leave lots of room. These babies will puff up a LOT. You don’t need fancy pudding pans – regular metal muffin pans will do.
It’s a fun recipe, and if you’re the kind of person who will exclaim over the puddings as they rise the way that I do, you’ll enjoy it. And once again, it gets the Boy stamp of approval. These are legit. Too bad this recipe only makes 12 at at time…
Totally Legit Yorkshire Puddings
Yield: 2 skillet-sized, 8 popover-sized, 12 muffin-sized, or 24 mini muffin-sized puddings
4 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup beef drippings, lard, shortening, or vegetable oil
Combine eggs, flour, milk, water, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. Let batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, for best results, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate batter overnight or for up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator while you preheat the oven.
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F . Divide drippings (or other fat) evenly between two 8-inch cast iron or oven-safe non-stick skillets, two 6-well popover tins, one 12-well standard muffin tin, or one 24-well mini muffin tin. Preheat in the oven until the fat is smoking hot, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the pans or tins to a heat-proof surface (such as an aluminum baking sheet on your stovetop), and divide the batter evenly between every well (or between the two pans if using pans). The wells should be filled between 1/2 and 3/4 of the way (if using pans, they should be filled about 1/4 of the way). Immediately return to oven. Bake until the yorkshire puddings have just about quadrupled in volume, are deep brown all over, crisp to the touch, and sound hollow when tapped. Smaller ones will take about 15 minutes, popover- or skillet-sized ones will take around 25 minutes.
Serve immediately, or cool completely, transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat in a hot toaster oven before serving.