“The pairing of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is one of the great culinary marriages of all time. It was the classic British Sunday lunch for generations and is still esteemed and enjoyed today.” Pudding: A Global History by Jeri Quinzio
In the iconography of British cuisine, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding reign supreme. Picture a juicy, tender joint of beef thinly sliced and paired with sizzling discs of cooked batter, crowned with a rich, savory gravy. Roast meats date back at least to the Middle Ages in Britain, although meat was associated with wealth for centuries and out of reach for those of more modest means.
A recipe for Yorkshire pudding first appeared in the 18th century. Made with what is essentially a pancake batter, they resemble what Americans know as popovers. When meat was still cooked on an open fire, pans were placed underneath the roasting joints to collect the drippings. Batter was then poured into the hot fat, creating one large pudding that would be cut up into pieces. In Yorkshire, these puddings were originally served on their own, with the meat following.
These days, Yorkshire puddings are often made in single serving sizes, using a muffin tin. The key to a good pudding is to ensure that the fat (or oil) is hot when the batter is poured. For a proper British roast beef, the meat requires minimal handling and seasoning, to allow the natural flavor of the beef to come through. I like to serve this dish with a dollop of good quality horseradish, the aforementioned gravy, peas and baby carrots.