Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

By Bill Turner

Thousands of pubs in Great Britain, especially those outside London, offer a “Sunday Lunch” each week. The main feature is a standing rib roast, which is always accompanied by Yorkshire pudding and amazingly crunchy roast potatoes. You always get a nice dessert (also called a “pudding”) and plenty of liquid libations. It is truly a great classic winter meal.

In younger days, my wife and I spent a wonderful year working and studying in London and have returned many times since. Recently, Stewart, a good friend from the U. K., married Katrina, who is from the Dells, and relocated to Lake Geneva. He is a great cook and after reminiscing about some wonderful pub afternoons, we got the urge to prepare a traditional British Sunday Lunch. We decided to make it a group event and invited our friends Bob and Andy and their wives. We told Bob that we were going to prepare a great classic meal that everyone should try. He responded that his body is also one of those classics that every female should try.

The traditional Sunday Lunch usually starts with a glass of sherry or a half pint of ale or English bitter, served with some smoked salmon on toast points. We had Bob work on that part of the menu while Stewart worked on the roast. Stewart encrusts the outside with a salt, pepper and horseradish sauce and puts it in the oven at 500 degrees for 5 minutes multiplied by the weight of the roast in pounds. We had an 11-pound roast, so he put it in for 55 minutes. He then turns the oven off and doesn’t open it for two hours. The result is perfect. The end pieces are well done, and it is almost rare in the very middle; everyone should get what they want, although Bob was never asked what he wanted for obvious reasons.

While the meat was resting, we made a red wine reduction sauce with the drippings, which goes on top of the meat, and the Yorkshire pudding.

Yorkshire pudding is an intriguing name for a type of puffy, savory dinner roll — and names are really important. If you tell your guests that you’re going to serve roast beef, gravy and dinner rolls, the interest meter will remain at zero. However, if you tell them that it’s a horseradish-encrusted standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding and a red wine reduction sauce, ears will perk up and everyone will wait in heated anticipation.

Yorkshire pudding has an unmistakable taste and is wonderful with the red wine reduction sauce; below, we give you a foolproof way to make this British favorite. “Yorkies” are quick and fun to make with everyone around. You can have the batter ready and make them as soon as the meat comes out. You will get some oohs and aahs and a little swooning from the women when they see them come out of the oven.

The other staple of the Sunday Lunch is a simple potato that is peeled, lightly coated with fl our and rosemary, and then baked at a high temperature for a long period of time. The result is a roasted potato with a very crunchy exterior but a very soft inside.

One or two vegetables also are served, typically peas and carrots, Brussels sprouts or maybe some roasted broccoli and cauliflower with a cheese sauce. Beverages include red wine, English bitter or a good pale ale.

A complete Sunday Lunch includes two more courses; a “pudding” (or what we call dessert) and a cheese plate, maybe with some figs, grapes and, obviously, a glass of Port. We decided to make a favorite, bread and butter pudding, which is quick, easy and equally a classic dish.

The whole meal is a bit of work, but not as much as you think, especially with the whole group helping. However, you really need a kitchen with two ovens.

The timing works like this:

  1. Get the roast in the first oven (500 degrees) by noon. When the roast comes out at about 3 p.m., use that oven for the Yorkshire pudding (350 degrees).
  2. Put the potatoes in the second oven (450 degrees) at about 1:30 p.m.
  • When the potatoes are finished, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake the bread and butter pudding.
  • Start making the red wine reduction as soon as the meat comes out of the oven.

Everything should be ready to go around 3:30 p.m.

Here are the recipes for 8 people:

SMOKED SALMON ON TOAST POINTS

  • 8 slices of your favorite bread, toasted and cut into triangles
  • ½ pound smoked salmon
  • 1 block of cream cheese
  • 1 red onion, chopped very fine
  • 1 jar of capers

Put the cream cheese on the toast, top with onions and capers and cap with smoked salmon. This technique keeps you from dropping capers and onion all over the place.

STANDING RIB ROAST

  • 8-10 lb. standing rib roast with bones in and tied with baking twine.
  • 8 ounce jar of horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper Olive oil
  1. Rub a little olive oil on the outside of the roast. Mix the horseradish, salt and pepper together in a bowl and spread over the exterior.
  2. Use Stewart’s baking technique described in the article. Use a roasting pan with rack to keep the meat off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Move the meat from the oven to a carving board, cover lightly with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve in slices about ¼” thick.

RED WINE REDUCTION GRAVY

  • 1 bottle red wine (any inexpensive, heavier wine will do)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  1. After removing the roast, tip the baking pan and remove some but not all of the excess fat with a big spoon.
  2. Put the pan on the stove and heat to medium high. Add the wine, bring to a boil and scrape the bottom to deglaze.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter and slowly mix in the flour. Add the salt and pepper. Cook and stir on medium heat until mixture bubbles. You now have a nice roux. Add to the meat dripping/wine mixture.
  4. Stirring occasionally, let the liquid reduce to about one-half.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING

  • Muffin baking tin for 12
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix the eggs, flour and milk thoroughly until frothy.
  3. Put one teaspoon of oil in each muffin cup and put tin in oven for 5 minutes so oil heats fully.
  4. Take hot tin out of the oven and fill each cup 2/3 full with batter.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOES

  • 8 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½- to 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. Don’t let them get too soft. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let cool.
  3. Put 1/8 inch of vegetable oil in the bottom of a large baking pan and put into the oven to heat.
  4. Shake the potatoes vigorously in the colander to roughen the outsides. Put the potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Remove the hot baking pan from the oven and add the potatoes. Spoon the hot oil on top of the potatoes. Return and roast for one hour, turning them after 30 minutes.
  6. Cool and serve.

THE VEGGIES

In the wintertime, the easiest thing to do is to buy frozen peas, carrots and green beans. The steamer packs that go in the microwave are just perfect. There is enough to do without getting complicated with the veggies.

BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING

  • 1 loaf of plain white bread
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup of golden raisins
  • 3 cups of milk
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter the bread (excluding the end pieces) and cut each slice into four triangles
  3. Grease a rectangular glass baking dish with butter and cover the bottom with a layer of bread. Top with about 1/3 of the raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Repeat until you have three layers. Save some raisins for the top.
  4. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan but do not boil.
  5. With a hand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar until smooth and light yellow. Slowly add the milk/cream mixture and the vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg while continuing to mix on low speed.
  6. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the bread down lightly with a spatula so that it is covered with liquid.
  7. Top with brown sugar and some raisins. Bake for 45 minutes and serve.
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