An English dinner for Christmas

Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Entertaining

It is also one of the very easiest.

I prefer to grill my roast — over indirect heat, please — because it is the combination of the fire and the beef that makes the dish so spectacular. If you don’t have a grill with a lid, roasting it in the oven is absolutely the next best thing.

Cookbook writers and online recipeteers always try to come up with various rubs and marinades to make a standing rib roast better. Pay them no attention. A standing rib roast is perfect as is; adding anything more than a generous amount of salt and pepper merely diminishes the epochal greatness that is a simply cooked rib roast.

Mine was outstanding, beefy and juicy with just the right hint of smoke. I made sure to cook enough for leftovers too, so there are plenty of jaw-droppingly delicious roast beef sandwiches and roast beef hash in my future.

Naturally, an English Christmas dinner featuring beef has to be — has to be — accompanied by Yorkshire pudding. It follows as night follows day, or as mash follows bangers.

Yorkshire pudding has nothing to do with what we Americans think of as pudding. “Pudding,” especially when preceded by “Yorkshire,” is one of those British words that only prove the English don’t know how to speak English.


Yorkshire pudding is popovers, a puffy and rich form of what is technically a roll but is so much more exquisite than that.

You make a batter not unlike that for pancakes, but with more eggs, and pour it into a hot muffin pan with equally hot oil (or beef drippings) in the bottom. The batter puffs up impressively as it bakes and turns a lovely golden brown.

The taste is wonderfully buttery, which is odd because it has no butter. And there is absolutely nothing that goes better with a standing rib roast.

For my vegetable, I first thought of pease porridge, a dish so quintessentially English that it has its own nursery rhyme. You’re saying it to yourself now.


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