Recipes - Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Whatever the reason for the undeniable quality of our beef, Britain wouldn't be so great without its roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. I remember we cooked 25-pound sirloins on the bone at Simpson's in the Strand, and then we took them into the dining room to be carved in front of the guests.
Batter puddings are traditional all over the British Isles, and Yorkshire pudding is the most famous, originally cooked in the tray of dripping under the meat as it turned on the spit. Why it became so associated with Yorkshire, I don't know. Perhaps it was because of the renowned thrifty nature of my fellow countrymen: the pudding was served first, before the meat, in order to fill people up so that they would then eat less meat! To me its main purpose is to soak up the meat juices and gravy.
For the Yorkshire pudding batter, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat well with half the liquid until all the lumps have disappeared. Add the rest of the liquid and the vinegar, and allow to stand.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220ºC / 425ºF / Gas 7.
Prepare the meat by cutting down the backbone towards the rib bones with the knife angled towards the backbone. Take a chopper and then break the backbones near the bottom of the cut (this is called chining). Lift up the fat from the back and take out the rubbery sinew. Tie the beef with string.
Put the joint into a roasting tray and season well. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 190ºC / 375ºF / Gas 5 and cook for a further 1 ½ hours. This will give you blood-red beef in the middle. The way to check this is by using a meat thermometer to test to 55ºC/130ºF or, as I prefer, by plunging a metal skewer through the middle of the beef, holding it there for 10 seconds and then running it either across the wrist or under the bottom lip. If the skewer is cold the meat is not ready: if warm, it's medium; and if hot then the meat is well done.
When cooked, put the meat in a warm place to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving and serving. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature again to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6.
Heat some of the excess dripping from the roast in a suitably sized ovenproof pan or roasting tray. Whisk up the Yorkshire pudding batter, then pour into the tray and immediately place in the oven. Close the door quickly and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the pan round and cook on for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, carve and portion the beef on to hot plates, and make a gravy using the juices left in the roasting tray. As soon as the Yorkshire pudding is ready, serve it with the meat, along with mustard and horseradish sauce, or indeed some horseradish mustard.