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Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Scotland’s foremost problem over the centuries has always been how to deal with a larger, stronger and wealthier neighbour. A neighbour who, for obvious reasons, was keen to secure her northern border. In the wake of the declining so-called incorporating Union of 1707, the relationship between Scotland and England is still top of the political agenda and a lasting solution has still to be found. Devolution is no more than a staging-post in finding that solution. For the Scottish Parliament to have less power than the Manx Tynwald is an insult to the nation of Scotland and the only logical conclusion is Scottish and English ( and Welsh) Independence. As Alex Salmond, Leader of the Scottish National Party, well put the matter:

“After [Scottish] independence England will still be our biggest pal, our biggest friend, our biggest trading partner and people north and south of the border find that a very attractive proposition.” (9 April 2007)

Alex Salmond spoke for us all, as a relationship of equals threatens neither partner. It would help both Scots and English to rediscover their own cultural roots and distinctive identity. It is only to the benefit of Scottish Nationalism that the English rediscover their own identity. Increased use of symbols of nationality by the English such as the St George’s Cross is to be welcomed. During recent international football competitions England has been awash with red and white flags. Moves are afoot to make St George’s Day (23 April) a public holiday – in English terms a bank Holiday and an increasing number of events are being held, the length and breadth of England, to mark this important date. Google in St George’s Day 2007 and you will find a host of events being organised from bodies as diverse as English Heritage and the Boy Scouts. A golden opportunity to celebrate and enjoy English traditions such as real ale and Morris dancing. Appropriately St George’s Day is also the birth and death date of England’s National Bard – the incomparable William Shakespeare, so what better day to celebrate all that is best in England. Like St Andrew’s Day, St George’s should be a public holiday.

This week’s recipe features a dish which is also very popular in Scotland, but is seem internationally as being essentially English – Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. We can all join in celebrating England’s National Day and raising a glass to the day when England is independent again.

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Ingredients:  Fore rib beef (about 4 kgs/9 lbs), French trimmed, boned and rolled; olive oil; salt; freshly cracked black pepper

For the Yorkshire pudding

3 eggs; 115g/4oz flour; 275ml/½ pint milk; beef dripping; salt

Method:   Preheat the oven to its highest setting.  Rub the beef with the olive oil, salt and pepper all over. Put a heavy-based roasting tray on the hob and when hot, add the beef.  Sear the beef quickly on all sides to colour and crisp the outside.  Transfer the beef immediately to the oven and leave the oven on its highest setting (about 240C/460F/Gas 8) for 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and roast for half an hour per kilo for rare, adding another ten minutes per kilo for medium rare, 20 minutes per kilo for medium, and 30 minutes per kilo for well done.  Remove from the oven and place on a board or tray for resting.  Loosely cover with foil and rest the meat for a minimum of 40 minutes before carving, letting the precious juices that have bubbled up to the surface seep back into the flesh. Also, as the meat relaxes it becomes easier to carve.

For the Yorkshire pudding, mix together the eggs, flour and a pinch of salt.  Add the milk, stirring constantly, until you have a runny batter.  Leave this to rest, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.  Place 1cm/½in of beef dripping in the bottom of each pudding mould, or if you are using a rectangular roasting tray, place 1cm/½in of beef dripping across the bottom.  Heat the dripping in the oven (at 240C/460F/Gas 8) for about ten minutes, until it is piping hot.  Remove the roasting tray from the oven, pour in the batter, and immediately return to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy, making sure not to open the oven door for the first 20 minutes.  Serve immediately with the carved roast beef.

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