Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Think I "Get" It

I think I finally "get" it. Maybe. It really is a bit confusing, all things considered.

See, there is this relationship between our cocky high hat popovers and the Brit's traditional Yorkshire Pudding, in that they share pretty much the same ingredients and often even the same proportions, given the variations in the recipes for both. To make matters more confusing, a lot of people use the terms interchangeably. I would read the recipes and think, well, really -- they're the same breed of cat. Just raised in different litters, that's all.

For some time now, my buddy John has been trying to enlighten me but the essential difference between the two was hidden by the essential sameness. All I could see was, hey -- flour, milk and/or water, eggs, seasoning -- you will always end up with either popovers or Yorkie puds -- or Dutch Baby pancakes, fer cryin' out loud.

Then something John said the other day flipped a switch in my alleged mind. He was talking about making some of his famous Winter Chicken Stew with Yorkie Puds and he promised to share the recipe with his readers. (And he did -- if you follow the above link, you, too, can enjoy a truly fabulous dish.) What he said was something to the effect that one served the stew by ladling it into -- into -- the Yorkshire puddings and he recommended the 6-inchers.

Oh wait. Wait just a flippin' minute. My popovers are baked in muffin tins (no, I don't have the similar-but-deeper popover pan) and I split 'em and slather them with butter but I don't serve my meal IN them. They're not big enough for that.

Then a vision of past Dutch Babies floated across my mind's eye and I sighed. Of course. It isn't the ingredients. It isn't the name. It's how the thing is used. At least that was my working theory when I went googling for a proper Yorkie pud recipe. There is most definitely an abundance of those out there and I consider myself fortunate that I didn't get too far in before I found and chose to try a rough version offered on a cooking forum. The fellow said it came from a celebrity chef and always worked. (More about that in a minute.) The trick, he said, was to measure the ingredients in equal portions by volume.

For instance, take a cup. Any size cup, be it precision measuring cup, coffee mug or gallon whiskey jug. But be sure to use the same cup for all the ingredients. If you use 1 cup of flour, then you also use 1 cup of eggs and 1 cup of milk. (This recipe called for half milk and half water in that turn with the cup.)

Okay, fine. But I measured the eggs first because a whole cup of eggs sounds like a huge amount. I guess not. Three eggs gave me 2/3 of a cup and I decided that would be fine because I didn't want to make a big Yorkie. (Insert chilling background music and an ominous voice-over saying, "Little did she know.")

So I whupped up 2/3 cup of flour, 2/3 cup of eggs, and 2/3 cup of half milk and half water. To that I added, as instructed, a toss of salt and a toss of malt vinegar. Well, I didn't have any malt vinegar but the cider vinegar seemed to work. At least it didn't do any harm.

I did that early, before I'd properly started the chicken stew, and left it covered, at room temperature for a couple of hours. When it was finally time to cook it, all I had to do was give it a quick whisk and pour it in the pan. After looking over my pan supply, I decided to use the 10" casserole dish. Larger than the 6-incher John recommended but it's the best I could do.

Now, it's very important the batter is poured into a hot pan with sizzling oil (or meat drippings) of choice. I put in roughly 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter and put the pan in a 400 degree fairyheight oven for about 10 minutes. The butter was beginning to sputter. I think the idea behind pouring the batter into the hot oil is to let it hit the ground running when it's time to cook. Well, you'd move fast, too, if somebody sat you down in hot oil.

I don't know what I expected, really. Certainly I've never had a Dutch Baby behave so aggressively. When I peeked in the oven window somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes into the 30-minute baking span, I nearly fainted. The Yorkie was most visibly swelling up with a speed that made me think it must be on steroids. I knew I would have to defend myself with a chair and a whip if it ever got the oven door open.

Then I became utterly enchanted as I watched it form itself into the most wonderful edible bowl. And now I was pretty sure this was the kind of thing John had been talking about. Although he didn't mean for it to be this large. To give you an idea of scale, that's my 2-gallon kettle right beside the Yorkie.

I happily ladled the entire chicken stew into what turned out to be a perfect fit. It's a thick stew and, when I went for seconds a little while ago, it had cooled enough in the fridge that I could actually cut it like a piece of pie before I put it in the microwave for a quick nuke. Too kewl.

Here are some neat sites for you, should you care to explore a bit further. The celebrity chef who seems to be associated with my recipe is Brian Turner and you can see his version of the story here. I love his explanation for the presence of vinegar in the recipe. If you go to Recipezaar, you will be staggered by 44 recipes for the beastie, many of them with photos. It's a fun browse -- you'll get a chuckle out of the Swedish Yorkshire Pudding, I promise. Especially if you know any Norse drinking songs.

Finally, in trying to find a good site to illustrate the Dutch Baby pancake, I was delighted to find Orangette. Her writing knocks me out and I can't wait to click back to the page and read some more. But do read about her Dutch Baby morning. It's a delicious entry in more ways than one.


Kate said...

Well too cool! I've already snagged John's chicken stew directions, now I can snag your Collapsed Yorkshire Pud directions, & have a whomping good time! This might even atone a bit for that cake in a cup, you evil friend you! [grin]

John Bailey said...

Yes! That is a reet proper Yorkshire pud, Dee. The little individual ones are good but this is fit for a farmhouse table. My mother used this recipe and mine was adapted from hers. In the process I seem to have dropped the vinegar... and, of course! That's why my puds, while good, lacked that certain something. Well, next time... Thanks, Dee!

bonnie said...

Every time I try one of your recipes Wil just groans. He eats them without groaning, but he like daughter considers my kitchen work experiments. Just wait until I try this one! Not today though,heading to Austin.

Wendy, NC said...

Yorkie on steroids, indeed. There are those baked chicken wings in the oven that were headed for the stew/soup pot today anyway . . .

Dee said...

Kate, I must emphasize -- that is NOT collapsed! Heaven forfend. The Yorkie shapes itself into a bowl as it cooks. All its building energy goes into high walls, no roof.

John, do you supposed the shape has to do with the size of the pan? I notice pics of Yorkies baked in muffin tins look more like popovers. And thank you for your most welcome stamp of approval!

Bonnie, have a safe trip to Austin and give Wil a hug for me, please. Besides, you have to pick up the chicken for John's fab stew (and it really is).

Wendy, if you're about to do Bailey Magic with the chicken wings, you're in for a real treat. Be sure to wear clothes with expandable waistlines. (grin)

John Bailey said...

It does depend on the shape of the tin, Dee, that much is certain. The degree to which you grease the sides of the mould has its effect, too. I think the 'popover' vs yorkshire difference is mostly down to the fact that popovers are generally cooked with a wipe-on or spray-on grease? A yorkie uses plenty of liquid grease in the bottom so's the batter can spread out and push it up as it rises.

What we need here is a food/baking scientist! :-)

Kate & Jim said...

Hi Dee. John Bailey mentioned that I should take a look at your yorkshire pudding. It does seem simple enough, doesn't it? I'm going to have a go at them tomorrow. Your recipe sounds about up my alley of 'easy'!

I made the stew up this morning and Jim and I loved it. We'll have it again for supper tonight! ha! I poured it over buttermilk biscuits.

Dee said...

Hi, Kate! You did right with the buttermilk biscuits and, rest assured, it's much the same thing with the Yorkie. I do suggest a smaller size, though. (grin) Got any small cast iron skillets? I just ordered some of the 6-inch size my own self -- for future adventures.

Mage And George said...

Ah you two have the hang of it. I used to love popovers....mother made them in regular tins and bemoaned the fact that they didn't rise as high as she remembered the ones of her childhood. I don't care......they smell good from here. :)

vonnie said...

We did some puddings for Christmas eve dinner a couple years ago, small ones that we filled with gravy and slopped around the plate picking up all the spillage. Fantastic. I never thought of making a big one for a stew... that might be on this Sunday's menu. Mmmmm!!!

Dee said...

Vonnie, I humbly suggest you do the individual Yorkies again and fill each one with a helping of the stew. That way, everyone gets their own Yorkie bowl without messing up a community bowl. You see? I only did the big one because (a) I didn't have the proper size tins for individual servings and (b) I didn't know any better. (grin)