Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meat Loaf with Yorkshire Pudding, or Let the drippings rain down!

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we're going seriously British by way of one of the earliest popular American cookbook writers! Or, at least, as British as someone can get operating on instructions with no illustrations and having little idea how a recipe is supposed to come out. Today, we present... this!
We're writing about the spotty bread, not the meat.

What is this, you ask? Here's the original recipe:
Instead of potatoes, you may put into the bottom of the pan what is called a Yorkshire pudding, to be baked under the meat.
To make this pudding,—stir gradually five table-spoonfuls of flour into a pint of milk, adding a salt-spoon of salt. Beat four eggs very light, and mix them gradually with the milk and flour. See that the batter is not lumpy. Do not put the pudding under the meat at first, as if baked too long it will be hard and solid. After the meat has baked till the pan is quite hot and well-greased with the drippings, you may put in the batter; having continued stirring till the last moment.
If the pudding is so spread over the pan as to be but an inch thick, it will require about two hours baking, and need not be turned. If it is thicker than an inch, you must (after it is brown on the top) loosen it in the pan, by inserting a knife beneath it, and having cut it across into four pieces, turn them all nicely that the other side may be equally done.
But this pudding is lighter and better if laid so thin as not to require turning.
When you serve up the beef lay the pieces of pudding round it, to be eaten with the meat.

Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie, 1837
This is an excerpt from the Baked Beef recipe (these days we'd call it Roast Beef) which is a lot like a modern-day one. You're supposed to salt the meat, bake it on a rack over a roasting pan with a little water in it, and baste it every now and then as it bakes. Miss Leslie also says to put potatoes in the roasting pan under the meat. Her second suggestion to put under the beef, mashed potatoes which you've scored all over with a knife so there's more crispy surface, sounds delicious.
At first it's odd that an American cookbook should have such obviously British recipes (and there a lot of them) as Yorkshire pudding in it. However, one need only look at the date to realize a lot of people using Directions for Cookery remembered being British citizens.
The recipe begins by saying this is "a plain, family dish" which you would never make for company, which is interesting because these days people put a massive beef slab in the oven as a special treat for company. Magazines these days also regularly make photo spreads of a huge piece of beef just out of the oven with potatoes spread around it when telling you how to impress your guests. Then again, in Miss Leslie's day, if you said you were making roast beef, you were roasting it on a spit, so I can see how beef cooked in an oven wouldn't impress anyone.

Yorkshire Pudding
to be baked under roast beef or meatloaf

5 tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
2 c milk
4 eggs (3 if bigger than medium)

Do your future self a massive favor and line the roasting pan with foil.
Having seasoned and otherwise prepared the meat as you like, bake it on a rack that holds it a fairly good height over the pan. Put a little water under it- enough to keep the drippings that land in the pan from burning permanently onto it. Bake the meat very slowly so the drippings have plenty of time to fall out as it cooks. Start making the pudding when the meat is about 2½ hours away from being done.
Thoroughly mix the flour, a spoonful or so at a time, into the milk, mixing until it's completely smooth. You'll find a whisk much better than a spoon for getting out lumps (or just grab one of the beaters from the mixer you were about to use for the eggs anyway- you needn't worry about rinsing it after). Add the salt. Make sure there are no lumps.
Thoroughly whip the eggs- they should be a creamy color, smooth, and very light. Gently stir them into the milk in 3 or 4 additions, and keep stirring the batter right up to when you pour it out..
By now there should be a fair amount of drippings in the roasting pan. Pour the batter in- it'll be runny enough that if you can only pour it in one corner it should spread out just fine. Leave the meat to finish baking with the pudding under it.
If the pudding is more than an inch thick, let it get browned on top, then cut it into four strips along the short side of the pan, carefully loosen them, and turn them over. (This will prove a dicey operation. If you have that much pudding batter to put in such a small pan, you will be glad you stopped pouring while it was still thin, and anyway Miss Leslie says it's better that way.)

Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie, 1837

The occasion for today's culinary perpetration: I received a wonderful present: a massive package of ground beef! A friend works at a grocery store and took home more than she was going to use. Meatloaf being one of my favorite things ever, I was excited to make such a large one.
Onions, garlic, salt, paprika, eggs. Now all it needs is meat.

Because the meat was 20% fat, I added no breadcrumbs. Theoretically, the fat would drip out as the meat baked instead of soaking into said crumbs. However, what good is it if the fat stays right in the pan and soaks back in during baking? Like a lot of people who lack a proper roaster, I settled on baking it on the oven rack (DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE A SELF CLEANING OVEN).
Beat the eggs very light, eh?

It takes a special brand of daft to, after carefully setting up meat in the oven so as much fat drips out as you could possibly get to drip out, collect all the fat that dripped out onto bread and eat it anyway. Fortunately, we at A Book of Cookrye are that daft!
Check out the dripping stalactites.

Furthermore, we were daft enough to rotate the pan mid-baking to make sure all of the Yorkshire pudding got dripped on, which led to this.
Someone else had to thaw his chicken out anyway.

It turns out that apparently even the British don't do Yorkshire pudding like this any more. If you do a recipe search, you'll find that for the most part, they're making a batter and putting it into muffin pans with a little beef drippings poured under each-- and without a slab of beef cooking above them. So, are we really stupid to make this the really old-fashioned way, or are we going to find that the modern way, while tidier, is just not the same?
Looks delightful.

You may think it's an oversaturated picture, but I assure you it is not. This was almost unnaturally golden and crispy on top. Like, if I hadn't made this myself and seen what went in it, I'd have suspected some creepy industrial practices and unpronounceable chemicals were involved in making it as crackly on top as it end up being. The rest of the pudding underneath the top tastes very heavily of eggs (unsurprising since it's baked egg foam) and happiness.
Also, I've noticed that it always seems meat loaf made from fatty ground beef ends up tasting underseasoned no matter what I put in it. Today I found out why because all of the dripping splots tasted like really concentrated garlic and paprika.
And yes, we had our Yorkshire pudding with tea.

This is amazing, delicious, and incredibly rich. You could portion it out for a dozen people and I doubt anyone would feel underfed- and that's before they have any of the meat. Although I would recommend stirring a shake of pepper into the pudding just to give it a little kick. If you've decided to hell with dieting, I doubt you'd regret making this.


  1. I have never thought of putting Yorkshire pudding over meatloaf. This is genius and I am doing it.

    Btw Alton Brown's Yorkshire pudding recipe has you just put all the stuff in the blender for 30 seconds, and it is the new one true way forever and ever amen don't tell my grandma.

    1. I could have just dropped everything in a blender and pushed a button? This changes everything.