OK, deep breath, and here I go. I warn you now, you’re not going to like this. It’s heresy, I know, but I’m going to say it anyway. And it’s honestly no easier for me to say than it is for you to hear, but…
I’ll get to the point, shall I? The best Yorkshire puddings I’ve ever tasted were made by… an Italian.
I went to a Pampered Chef party recently. Never again. Not my idea of fun, passing round a sliver of carrot to solemnly admire its precision crinkle-cut. At one point, the presenter asked us all for our personal take on Yorkshire puddings. People had various tips and wrinkles to give – get the fat as hot as you can, all that stuff – and then it was my turn. “I, er, use 00 flour,” I said, curling up inside as the words spilled out.
“Oh…” she said. “I don’t think I’ve come across that one before…”
Oh, god, I thought – I’ve dug myself into a deeply pretentious hole, and it can only get deeper. “It’s just that I have this Italian friend, you see, and he made them for me one day using 00, and, well, they were just the best ever…”
I’m now over the humiliation of being drummed out of the Pampered Chef community forever. And I’m out and I’m proud of my Italian-style Yorkshire puddings. My friend, you see, he’s not just any old Italian. He’s Giorgio Alessio, a genuine food hero, who runs the Lanterna Ristorante in Scarborough.
The Lanterna, I’m the first to admit, is an acquired taste. Go there expecting pizza, or healthy Mediterranean tomato sauces, and you’ll be disappointed. This is Piedmontese food, hailing from the far north of Italy, the foot of the Alps, bordering on France and Switzerland, where the winters are cold and the food is comforting. They like meat, cream, butter, risotto, polenta and truffles.
Giorgio has lived in Yorkshire a long time now, and it’s coloured his accent – it’s one of life’s great pleasures to hear him segue from Latin chatter to Yorkshire bluntness.
But it’s not just the lingo that’s ‘fusion’ with him. It’s the food, too. His book White Truffle, Yorkshire Pudding (and here I declare an interest – I helped him write it) is testament to that. And here’s that recipe for Yorkshire puddings. Try it, and let me know what you think. You can buy 00 flour in a lot of supermarkets now – or, better, try the gorgeous Le Langhe on Peasholme Green, nearly opposite the Black Swan. Otto is also from Piedmont, and his food is also knock-out.
Beat together 200g of 00 flour, a pinch of salt, three medium eggs, 400ml of milk and one teaspoon of cold water.
Use a muffin tin, rather than a traditional Yorkshire pudding tin – the 00 gives these a real rise. Put enough vegetable oil in the bottom of each cup to just cover, and then into a hot oven (about 240 degrees, or gas mark 9). When the oil starts to haze, remove from the oven and carefully fill each cup to the rim with batter. Put back into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden.