Freshly made popovers. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

Marlene Newell, who runs an excellent cooking forum called CooksKorner tested all the recipes for Ratio and Twenty. She’s a friend and excellent cook. One of her passions is Yorkshire pudding, in effect, a savory popover, which is how she bakes them (as above). I, too, make roast beef for Christmans dinner and Yorkshire pudding. I believe it’s critical to cook it in beef fat, for flavor, so I buy and render suet for this purpose. I’ve also poured the batter straight into the roasting pan which works great so long as there are no burnt bits (the pudding ripples and puffs like crazy; I then cut it to serve). I imagine the roasting pan method was how it would have originated, the batter cooking in the fat and meat juices in the roasting pan. But using a popover pan is a great way to cook them for a lot of people.

Marlene—and if you want to get a true sense of her as a cook, pay attention to the “if I must” comment, below—links this dish to spiritual stability in uncertain times. It’s a fabulous piece on the grounding power of food.—M.R.

Out with the Old, In with the New—But Don’t Touch my Yorkies!

by Marlene Newell

The holidays are almost upon us.  It’s a busy frantic time of year and this year was busier than usual for me.

Not only was I finishing up Ruhlman’s Twenty with Michael, but I was about to make the biggest move of my life.  From Oakville, Ontario, to Calgary, Alberta.  I was terrified, but hey, I did own a cowboy hat after all, and I’ve worn cowboy boots for as long as I can remember.  How bad could it be?  Well, it wasn’t bad,  but it was disorienting.  I couldn’t find anything, I didn’t know how to get to the grocery store, or anywhere for that matter, and I didn’t know anyone.  Plus I had to get used to cooking at high altitudes.

We headed back to Ontario for Canadian Thanksgiving where we partook of our traditional Thanksgiving meal, of Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, et cetera.  I was happy.  I was in familiar territory with familiar comforting food.  I don’t know about you, but we do the same meal for every holiday.  For Thanksgiving it’s Turkey, Easter is ham, and Christmas is always prime rib.  Always.  It’s a tradition that goes back to my dad, and with few exceptions, I’ve made Prime Rib and Yorkshire puddings for Christmas for the last 35 years or so, when I took over making Christmas dinner from my Dad.

Tradition is a wonderful thing isn’t it?  We count on it to keep us sane in a busy, upside down world.  Sure, things change. My family now consists of my son and husband, as my brother and mom passed on five years ago.  But through those changes, and even this move, some things remain the same. Decorating the tree with the ornaments we’ve collected over the years, that mean something special to us.   The stockings, stuffed just before we go to bed. Peameal bacon and eggs on Christmas morning. Always. And  the piece de resistance, the Prime Rib, roasted cream potatoes, a vegetable if I must, and Yorkshire pudding. You have to understand. My prime rib and yorkies are the most requested dish from family and friends. In fact, my best friend Barbara would happily skip the prime rib and eat all the yorkies if I let her. (I don’t, but I will make extra when she’s around.)  I was honoured when Michael chose to include them in Ruhlman’s Twenty.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Or so we hope.   This year, our tree didn’t fit.  It was too big.  So we had to get a smaller skinnier one.  I sort of freaked.  Everything was changing, my son was back east, we were spending Christmas in a strange place and now, I couldn’t even have my tree? What about my precious ornaments?  Would they fit? It all just sort of hit me then. It’s going to be different now. I want to go home. Oh wait, I am home. And then we got to talking about Christmas dinner. I started to outline the usual menu, (the only thing I change up is dessert and the veg usually), when my husband interrupted me.  “I think we should do something different this year” he said.

I stared at him. “What?” I thought to myself. “The past six months haven’t been different enough for you?”  I’d barely gotten over the tree and now he wanted to mess with another tradition?  But as I listened, it made sense.  My son would be here for Christmas and there would only be the three of us.  Ryan would be going back east the day after Christmas, and we would be heading to Vegas a day after that.  Did we really need a big meal, throwing out the leftovers since no one would be home to eat them?  So we came up with what may become a new tradition. Fondue, salad, rice pilaf and a yule log for dessert.  And I’m going to make Yorkies.  Because I can and because they remind me of my dad and because they are part of my past tradition. Because they comfort me.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t been the easiest person to live with the last few months.  I don’t do change well and we’ve had more than our share.  But in the end,  I’m ok with where we are.  The tree?  All of the ornaments that meant the most to us fit beautifully.  More importantly?  We still trimmed it together, Christmas music playing softly in the background.  Christmas dinner?  Well it will be new, but so is this adventure.  We will blend old and new and forge new memories. What won’t change is really the only thing that matters. We’ll be together, healthy and ready to face the new life we are making for ourselves here. So, Merry Christmas, and pass me a Yorkie, would you?

Marlene’s Yorkshire Pudding

  • 1 cup/140 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 4 or 5 large eggs, enough to make 1 cup
  • 1 cup/250 milliliters whole milk
  • 6 teaspoons vegetable oil or beef fat drippings

Equipment

  • 1 six-well popover pan or 12-well muffin tin
  1. Sift the flour and mustard powder together into a large bowl.   Add the eggs and milk and blend on high speed with a hand mixer until fully incorporated.  Let the batter rest for 2 hours at room temperature, re blending now and then.
  2. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F./240 degrees C./gas 9
  3. Place one tsp of fat in each cup of a popover pan or half a tsp of fat in the well of each muffin cup.    Place the pan on a baking sheet and slide it into the oven to heat the oil when the oven is heating.    When the oven has reached temperature, reblend the batter, remove the pan and pour the batter into the cups , dividing it evenly and filling the cups three-fourths full.  Place the pan in the oven and turn on the light so you can watch them rise.  After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. and continue baking without opening the oven door, until the puddings are puffed and golden brown. 15-25 minutes depending on your oven.  Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 popovers of 12 small muffins; you can also bake it in 9×13-inch baking dish or in the beef’s roasting pan.

If you liked this post on Yorkshire Pudding, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

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17 Wonderful responses to “Christmas Yorkshire Pudding”

  • Sherry

    Mustard powder…never in a million years would I have thought of that, but it sounds like a perfect flavour note for Yorkshire pudding. Brilliant, in fact. I’ll try it for our New Years roast beef dinner!

    (Oakville to Calgary is truly a big change, but at least you’ll have Chinooks!)

  • marlene

    Sherry, the mustard powder also acts as a stabilizer since these yorkies are eggier than popovers. And the last Chinook we had here took out several downtown office windows and lots of trees! The weather is a bit of an adventure here!

  • Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)

    Welcome to the West. I lived in Calgary for 35 years and just two years ago retired and moved to a small city in Saskatchewan. I loved it and there is a good foodie scene which I am sure you have found by now. Love your recipe. Can we look forward to more? Do you have a blog or did I just miss that?

  • Deanna B.

    I love Yorkshire pudding. I try to do something different for every family gathering because for years we had the exact same Thanksgiving every year and I got sick of it. I have to change it up all the time or they’ll start to expect “traditional” food and I can not stand being asked “why aren’t we having the roast from last year?” one more time.

  • Stephanie

    My non-cooking, Canadian mother, married my British father, and decided to make him a traditional roast beef and yorkshire pudding dinner for their first Christmas together. She is *really* non-cooking. I cannot stress this enough. When she made the yorkshire pudding, the recipe called for a pan. To the British writer of the recipe, a pan meant a 2 inch deep 8×8 sort of thing. To my mother, it meant a flat cookie pan. She had never had yorkshire pudding, and did not know what it should be like.

    My father was so touched that she even tried (really, the amount of non-cooking my mother is cannot be stressed enough), that he could not bring himself to tell her. I was 13 before I learned that yorkshire pudding was not supposed to be thin and crispy, like a cracker.

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    I love my Yorkshire Pudding pan which is actually like huge muffin tins…being Canadian I have only ever known Yorkshire Pudding as something akin to a popover but truly not the same. For those not in the know in Canada we used to sing God Save The Queen, at the beginning of every school day, when the British flag stood beside the Canadian one also in every classroom.

  • Guy

    Years ago, on a small cruise ship, there was a buffet serving line on “roast beef” night. The chef was carving, and next her there was a small basket with popovers. I said, “oh, popovers…” which got a stern rebuke from the chef, “no, these are Yorkshire puddings.” My retort was, “same batter”.

    In fact, I think there are many variations on the batter, and Michael is right that it is really just a savory popover. Or a popover is just an individual Yorkshire pudding. But the only key difference is that an American-style popover will typically use butter for the fat while Yorkshire pudding uses drippings (beef fat).

    My one “epic fail” with Yorkshire pudding was with a nice rib roast that had a salt and horseradish crust. My brain did not put together than salty crust = inedible Yorkshire pudding, due to overly salty dripping. I know better now, though. :-)

  • Attrill

    There’s nothing better than Yorkshire Pudding! I’ve had it every Christmas since I was born. The mustard sounds great – I’ve never done that before. I usually grate some fresh Nutmeg into the batter instead.

    My grandmother had a basic criteria that differentiated Yorkshire Pudding from Popovers – it had to be made in the pan the beef was roasted in with the drippings (and the pan had to be screaming hot). In the late 60′s my mother once used some ramakins to make the pudding and my grandmother completely lost it.

  • Yogi

    Yorkshire puddings were made underneath the roasts, to absorb the drippings, as far as I have been able to find (a funny place to get confirmation: James Herriot’s books!).
    Love the popovers!

  • Jessica

    I learned how to make Yorkshire puddings about 20 years ago, and still adore them. (Ok, I’ve also been known to stuff the finished product with taco meat, in lieu of taco shells, but I’m a heretic.) However, the version I learned has a cup of flour, half a cup of milk, half a cup of water and only two eggs. Either way, one of the best batches I ever made had bits of diced, cooked bacon in it.

  • marlene

    On my prime rib? Michael put an excellent post on how he does his. I tend to go with the low and slow method. 200 convection oven. 6lbs will take about 3 and half hours, 9 lbs will take 4 and a half but definitely use a remote oven thermometer. Pull it at 135 for rare, 140 for medium rare. Rest for 25-30 minutes while you do the yorkies. You don’t get a lot of drippings with this method though. The other method I do is the high heat method. You get more drippings this way. 5 minutes per pound at 475 convection or 500 non convection. turn the oven off. Do not open oven door. after 1 1/2 to two hours, roast will be done. Again, use an oven thermometer. A remote thermometer is one of the best kitchen gadget tools you will ever own!

    The slow roast method produces this result.http://www.cookskorner.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=370&view=findpost&p=25862

  • sharon

    I made these for Christmas dinner and they were wonderful. I used 8 or 10 ounces of flour. Now that I’m trying to write about this recipe for a column I find that 140 grams must surely be a misnomer, as it equals only about 4 ounces. Hmm.

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