Arguably the most famous of the British puddings, Yorkshire pudding always makes an impressive side to serve along a perfectly cooked roast beef. But what happens if you don't have a pan of hot beef drippings to make your Yorkshire pudding in? Don't fret! You can make Yorkshire pudding in a variety of fats, taking this special occasion pudding to a fantastic side (or meal) you can make any night of the week.
After making several batches of Yorkshire pudding, using every fat I had on hand, I found that as long as the fat doesn't burn in the hot oven, you can achieve the puffed Yorkshire pudding of your dreams. Butter was quickly eliminated from testing; the milk fats burn during the heating and cooking time. But bacon fat, lard, rendered chicken fat, and even simple vegetable oil consistently produced puffy Yorkshires. The big difference between the various fats was flavor: Bacon produces a salty, mildly smoky pudding, and beef drippings add a definite beef flavor. After testing I was surprised at how much I liked the version made with vegetable fat—I'm thinking of serving that version alongside some mushrooms sautéed in sherry the next time the urge strikes.
Once you've picked your fat, all you need is to pick your cooking vessel. Some people prefer the smaller individual version made in muffin tins, while some favor the more traditional larger pudding produced in a roasting pan. This recipe will work with either of those choices. Now that I know how quickly I can whip up a batch of these puddings with no roast needed, I know I'll be seeing them on my table a lot more frequently.