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From Medieval Chuck to Modern Cut: How Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding Evolved From Peasant to Palace Fare

There is no definitive record of exactly when Yorkshire pudding first appeared. However, it is generally believed that a basic version of Yorkshire pudding has existed since at least the mid 1671 in England.

Some key pieces of evidence and theories about the origins of Yorkshire pudding include:

Cookbooks from the mid-18th century include early Yorkshire pudding recipes, including Hannah Glasse's 1747 cookbook "The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy" and Elizabeth Raffald's 1769 book "The Experienced English Housekeeper". These early versions were more like flat heavy pancakes baked under meat to catch the dripping fat.

Yorkshire pudding likely developed as a cheap way for poorer families to fill up by stretching a small amount of batter using the fat from roast meat. Wheat flour and eggs were more expensive ingredients at the time.

The name "Yorkshire pudding" started being used around 1747. The dish originated in the northern county of Yorkshire, which was well-known for wheat and cattle production.

The lighter, well-risen version that the Yorkshire pudding is known for today developed later in the 19th century. This is attributed to the use of refined wheat flour, the ability to incorporate more air through vigorous whisking, and the popularity of cast iron stovetops allowing higher oven heat.

So while early proto-versions of Yorkshire pudding emerged by the mid 1600s, it really evolved into its modern incarnation over the next 150 years as ingredients, cooking methods, and naming practices took shape. But the basic concept traces back over 270 years in English culinary history.

Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding from 1671

Prime Rib Roast from 1671 


  • A 3-4 rib standing rib roast, preferably grass-fed beef

  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled


  1. Remove roast from packaging and thoroughly pat dry. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour prior to cooking.

  2. In a small bowl, combine all rub ingredients. Generously coat entire roast with rub, pressing to adhere.

  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place roast bone-side down in a shallow roasting pan.

  4. Roast for approximately 18-20 minutes per pound for medium rare, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 125°F.

  5. Remove roast when 5° below desired doneness to account for carryover cooking. Transfer to a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest 20-30 minutes.

  6. Slice between ribs to portion and serve with pan juices spooned over the top. Accompany with Yorkshire Pudding (batter recipe follows) and seasonal vegetables.

Notes: As ovens and cuts of meat can vary, use a meat thermometer to ensure desired internal temp is reached. Covering the bone with foil prevents overcooking.


Yorkshire Pudding Recipe from 1671

From "The Compleat Cook" cookbook, 1671

Yorkshire Pudding


·       5 eggs

·       1 quart milk

·       Seasoning of nutmeg and salt

·       Flour

·       Beef dripping

Cooking Directions:

1.       Beat the eggs well together in a large bowl. Mix in the milk along with a good seasoning of nutmeg and salt.

2.       Begin heating your beef dripping in a bake pan or dripping pan in the oven.

3.       Add enough flour to make a thin batter mixture that flows easily and is a little thicker than heavy cream.

4.       When the beef dripping is very hot, carefully remove the pan from the oven. Pour in the batter. There should be enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

5.       Quickly place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until very puffed and golden brown. Do not open the oven too early or let cold air in.

6.       Cut into squares and lift puffs from the pan with a thin slice. Serve immediately with roast meat dishes to enjoy the full effect of the crisp outside and soft, eggy interior contrast.

So as you can see, the basic ingredients and method for Yorkshire pudding have remained largely consistent for over 300 years! The main difference is earlier versions tended to bake the batter directly under roasting meat, letting the beef drippings cook the pudding up puffy and light.



Modern Day Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding

Modern Perfect Prime Rib


·        1 bone-in prime rib roast (4-6 pounds)

·        Olive oil

·        Kosher salt

·        Freshly ground black pepper

·        Fresh rosemary

·        4 cloves garlic, minced

·        Beef broth or stock


1.       Take the prime rib out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.

2.       Preheat the oven to 450°F.

3.       Pat the prime rib dry with paper towels and rub all over with olive oil. Generously season with salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic.

4.       Place the roast bone-side down in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Pour the beef broth into the bottom of the pan.

5.       Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 325°F. Continuing roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part away from the bone reads 125°F-130°F for medium-rare (about 15-20 minutes more).

6.       Remove prime rib from the oven, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes before slicing. The temperature will rise 5-10 degrees during the rest time.

7.       Transfer roast to a cutting board and slice against the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Serve immediately with pan juices if desired.

Here is a modern recipe for Yorkshire pudding along with cooking instructions:

Modern Day Yorkshire Pudding


·        3 eggs

·        1 1⁄4 cups milk

·        1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

·        1⁄2 teaspoon salt

·        1/3 cup beef drippings or vegetable/canola oil

Cooking Instructions:

1.       Preheat oven to 450°F. Add the beef drippings or oil to a muffin pan or baking dish and place in the oven to heat up.

2.       In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Whisk in the milk until fully blended.

3.       Add the flour and salt all at once and whisk just until combined and smooth with no lumps. Avoid overmixing.

4.       Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven (the fat should be very hot). Pour in the pudding batter to fill the cups half full and return to oven.

5.       Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed tall and dark golden brown on top. Do not open the oven early.

6.       Serve Yorkshire puddings immediately as a side dish with Prime Rib, Roast beef or stew. They go perfectly with gravy!

The ingredients are almost identical over time, save for solid animal fats being replaced by vegetable oil. The technique remains essentially the same as well, though modern cooks take advantage of muffin tins to get individual popover-style puddings with crispy edges all around. Part of the magic is that very hot baking vessel for an impressive rise!


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