It’s not often you leave a press meeting with more than a dusty press release or, at best, a good idea or two. Sometimes, in the indulgent late ‘80s, you might have exited feeling mildly tired and emotional but in the abstemious ’90s and the even more health-conscious 21 Century, the main danger was, and is, a surfeit of tonic rather than the stronger stuff that formerly went with it
So, imagine my delight at leaving the 200-year old Rules restaurant in London yesterday with a secret. Not who said what to whom over his or her steak, kidney and oyster pudding. Not who Tony Blair favours, nor who David Cameron is lining up for farm minister in waiting. This secret was infinitely more important and more enjoyable. If anyone is looking over your shoulder, please scroll down the screen. This is a secret to be savoured.
It is no less than Rules’ head chef’s recipe for Yorkshire pudding. A Suffolk man himself, Richard Sawyer knows a thing or two about Yorkshire pudding. He must do because he sells 40 gallons of Yorkshire pudding mixture a week. Along the way, we sampled sirloin of beef from Paul Coppen’s belted Galloway herd in County Durham.
Hung for three weeks and prepared by chef Richard, who is also a master butcher, the beef was as tender and as succulent as one could have wished. Laced with marbelled fat, I can’t remember eating a better bit of beef.
But, beef is the sideshow. There’s a widespread myth that Yorkshire pudding was intended to accompany roast beet. As anyone from God’s own county knows, the reality is exactly the reverse. The pudding is the main attraction – beef is the side show. (Can anyone else remember the restaurant with the revolving doors, behind the cake shop, in 1960s Bridlington that used to serve Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy – crispy on top and deliciously soggy underneath – as a Sunday starter?). There’s no better testimony than Yorkshire Dads’ pre-war injunction to their children: “Them that eats the most pudding can ‘ave the most meat.”
So, it was with a trembling hand that I wrote down Rules’ head chef Richard Sawyer’s recipe for the perfect Yorkshire pudding:
Ingredients to serve eight
*4 free range eggs
*350ml butter milk
*250g plain flour
*4oz beef dripping
Method: Liquidize the eggs. Pour the dripping into a generous pan and heat at 250deg C until, as Richard puts it, “the pan bends,” then add the pudding mixture. Heat until all is golden and beautiful.
So, there it is: The fruit of my most productive press meeting ever. You don’t have to come from Yorkshire to enjoy this: It’s part of the culinary heritage enjoyed by us all. As our American cousins would say: Enjoy.
*If you have a better recipe for Yorkshire pudding, why not share it with 70,000 FWi users by emailing Fwi.co.uk