Friday, January 3, 2014

Starting the New Year Off Right With Something From Nothing #20: Yorkshire Puddings and Onion Gravy

Happy New Year everyone! Even though it is really just another day, January 1st still gives us all a reason to wipe the slate clean of any of our bad habits and start anew. Where as I love this symbolic restart, I quit making resolutions long ago due to the inevitable loss of momentum after a couple of weeks, giving way to disappointment and self-loathing.

For example, for many years in a row I resolved to quit smoking, but was never able to claim success with a January start. Every time I tried to quit and failed, I felt worse about myself than I did before I tried to quit. I probably repeated this process ten times over.

Success for me finally began one ordinary April day many years ago and took me two years of patches and nicotine gum before I could really claim victory.  I have been smoke free for 13 years now, but have to admit that I still have the occasional craving and dreams about smoking. If I live to see my 100th birthday I plan on buying a carton of cigarettes and smoking every one.  I feel free to say that I'm sure this is one resolution that I won't find difficult to follow through with. Hey, don't judge.

I guess if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to make a resolution, I would definitely choose to lose some weight. Most of my life I was the skinny kid that could eat anything and as much of it as I liked. It was not until I quit smoking that I started to gain weight. Oh, what a cruel twist of fate that is.

I probably can't blame it all on smoking cessation. I guess I have to look at my food blogging as a contributor. It just seems like there is never a good time to diet. Take right now for instance. Even if I wanted to start a diet I couldn't because the new Downton Abbey season premiers this Sunday and I owe it to all of you out there to post a delicious recipe in case you want to celebrate.

I've been further sacrificing my figure for these past few days in order to find something that I believe is quintessentially English. After a great deal of testing and tasting (see what I mean?) I decided to go with a dish that I know Ms. Pattmore would have probably made many of. I'm not sure how many she served to the family upstairs, but I know that the downstairs would have eaten a ton of them. So whether you are cooking for a group that identifies with the upstairs, or the down, they will certainly all LOVE these.

Yorkshire Puddings

I chose to make individual size puddings here, but you can easily make one large one by using the same method as below but with a 10" skillet or baking dish. These are delicious served as a starter or side dish filled with meats, gravies, stews or even served with butter and honey. This is also a great Toad in the Hole batter. Just remember, the secret to a good pudding is letting the batter set for at least an hour, sizzling hot oil in the pan and resisting the temptation to open the door while they are cooking.

3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Meat drippings or vegetable shortening or oil for the pan

Place eggs and milk into a large spouted bowl. With an electric mixer, fork or balloon whisk, beat until frothy. Cover loosely and let stand for 15 minutes.

After standing time, whisk in the salt and flour and beat well until smooth and frothy.  Cover loosely once again, set in a cool place (not the refrigerator) and let stand for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

For individual puddings, place a pea size amount of meat drippings (this produces a much better tasting pudding in my opinion), vegetable shortening, or oil in the bottom of each cup of a 12 cup muffin tin. Place in the oven for a few minutes or until it is smoking hot.

Remove the muffin tin from the oven. Quickly whisk the batter and pour about 1/4 of a cup into each section. You'll know if the pan is hot enough if it sizzles just a bit when the batter hits the hot fat.

Return the tin to the oven and bake for approximately 15 - 20 minutes or until the puddings are puffy and dry.  Serve immediately.

Onion Gravy

Although delicious as written below, I've dolled my gravy up here with a bit of garlic, dried thyme and bay leaf. 

2 tablespoons oil or 3 tablespoons meat drippings
1 tablespoon butter (if not using meat drippings)
1 medium size onion, very thinly sliced into rings, then cut into quarters
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth, warmed
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil or meat drippings and butter in a medium size frying pan. Once it is hot, add the onion pieces and saute until they are soft and slightly browned around the edges.

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the onions; stir well to coat.  Slowly stir in the warm broth, stirring constantly to prevent lumping.  Continue to stir until the gravy begins to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for at least 1 minute.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve while piping hot.

If gravy seems a bit too thin for your liking, simmer uncovered until the desired consistency is reached. If it seems a bit too thick, add some extra broth or water.

Makes approximately 3 cups.

Since most of my readers are American, I used a muffin pan because pudding pans would be hard to find here but it does produce puddings that look more like popovers, and shape is about the only difference in the two. Just for fun I made a second batch of puddings using my pudding pan from England. Again, this pan makes individual puddings, but it is much shallower than a popover or muffin pan.

This pan only makes 4 at a time and each section is about 4" inches wide and 3/4" deep. The trick to this pan is not to overfill it. Just about 1/3 full and 10 - 12 minutes in the hot oven will produce wonderful puddings.


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