photo credit: Karen Hurley

September 11 was also Grandparents Day™ , a Hallmark Holiday™ , and this post is in honor of my mom’s parents, who emigrated to the US from Yorkshire, England in the 1920s. When my mom was a child during WW2 and meat was scarce, this simple but filling recipe for what is essentially a large pancake was a trick used by my grandparents to stretch out the meal. The rule was that whoever ate the most Yorkshire Pudding got the first serving of meat. My mom and her sisters ate as much pudding as possible, thereby becoming too full to make a dent in the meat and leaving more for the grownups. Despite its roots as a flimflam on the children, the girls grew up and served it to their families for Sunday dinners, and so do their offspring.

You must start the recipe with good grease. The grease can come from a roast beef, roast lamb, or roast turkey; coming into possession of two tablespoons of good grease is reason alone to make a Yorkshire pudding. Proclaim, “That’s good grease!” as you skim it off the bottom of the roasting pan and put it into a container. Store it in the freezer or just put it aside from the prior day’s cooking until you’re ready to go.

A few hours before dinner, whisk together the following in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tbs. water

Refrigerate the batter for a few hours before baking, though if you have to skip this step it’s probably ok, Grandma Lumley’s gravespinning notwithstanding.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a 13×9 Pyrex pan inside. You want the pan hot – sizzling hot. Once it’s heated, throw in the aforementioned 2 tablespoons of good grease and return the pan to the oven for a few minutes. You don’t want to pour the batter into the pan until the grease has melted and coated the bottom and is sputtering at you like a motorist you’ve cut off on the highway.

Only then do you take out the batter out of the refrigerator and whisk it once more, to within an inch of its life. Then remove the hot pan from the oven, pour the batter into it, and return it to the oven for 30 minutes.

I know it is tempting, but you should never open the door to check on “the pud” while it bakes. Instead, peer through the oven door window as its various corners begin to bubble and rise into the peaks and valleys that constitute a truly great Yorkshire pudding, the empty spaces that will channel the accompanying gravy into tiny brown rivers and lakes. The best Yorkshire puddings are half air.

If you’re really achieving spectacular topography, this is the time to call your siblings long distance to gloat. “I’m making the best looking Yorkshire pudding ever,” you may say to them. “Bet you wish you were here.” They will hang up and probably go start making one themselves, good grease or no.

If you are married to an Asian man who drinks sriracha and Sambal Oelek by the bottle and wonders what all the fuss is about, remind him that blandness takes up a quarter of the real estate on your family’s crest and makes you feel connected to your fore bearers.

Make sure you’ve set the table and warmed up some gravy and meat to serve atop the pudding (one of the best times to make this dish is the day after Thanksgiving) as the clock ticks down, because you’ll want to eat as soon as it comes from the oven. When you pull it out of the oven, call the entire family into the kitchen to comment on the contours of the pudding. Commemorative photos are never out of place.

If the pudding is completely flat, which sometimes happens too, do not despair. It will still taste good. But next time, find some better grease.

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