Boxing Day Cooking: tribulations and triumph

The holidays are nearly over.  Xmas turkey was lovely, but I did not have any cooking responsibilities.  Later, however, for a belated Boxing Day meal, I did. Ambitiously I set out to do roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, Plum pudding, and mince pie tarts. This is a report on my successes and failures. It may help others, but more importantly, it may serve as a reminder for me for next year.

I started off bravely by downloading recipes as needed. Usually those on line are pretty good so I just grabbed the first ones to come along, with little further thought. Top of my list was Yorkshire puddings because last year they were a disaster. I chose Chef Ramsay’s recipe which suggested making the batter the day before and keeping it in the fridge. In my one and only blender I proceeded to add eggs, milk, flour and blend. It was a bit messy and when I decided to double the amounts so that I would have 24 puds I discovered the blender was almost overflowing. Still, I managed this, but only barely. Then, inspired by how easy it was, I ran out the next day and got more milk and eggs and made another batch. So all was in readiness in three containers in the fridge, awaiting the cooking of the beef.

The five pound beef had been in the fridge since Boxing Day but it seemed happy, albeit bloody. It was labelled roast beef so I sought a recipe by that name. I did not really need much more than temperature and cooking time. However, when I clicked the top ranked site I got one that was for pot roast. I didn’t pay any attention to the apparent difference but was panicked when it said 3 hours at about 375. We had planned to eat at 5 pm and it was already 3 pm.  Our oven takes ages to reach a reasonable temperature so I turned it up high and shoved the beast in without trimming fat as advised. I then called the kids and said the best I could promise was 6 pm.  I then waited patiently for the internal temperature of the beef to rise; it made little progress in the first hour so I shoved the meat thermometer in to keep track and continued to offer up little prayers.

Meanwhile to keep with family tradition, I wanted some dough to make mince pies. I had a jar of mince left over (who knows how long, but unopened so probably OK). Making dough should be easy and it might have been if I had not assumed my blender was the same as a food processor. I froze many cubes of butter, and when the time came dumped them in the blender with the flour and start pulsing. No luck. Just a smell of a burning motor. Kept trying; still no luck. Took everything out and chopped by hand then put it back in; lumps remain and the mixture was not at all what was described in the recipe. When daughter arrived and patiently explained that a blender was not a food processor (which I had given away!) I gave up on the machine, dumped the contents on a floured board and tried to chop it by hand. Daughter added water; texture still wrong but it needed to sit in the fridge for at least an hour and time was running out. The fridge phase was bound to solve all my problems. It did not. In desperation we shoved squished bits of dough into a small muffin tray, added a scoop of mince to each, and put it in the small  oven at 375. What later emerged was a crumbly – but tasty – mess! I will share with neighbours who may not know what real mince pies are supposed to look like.


Mince Pies (sort of…)

Finally, the time was nearing for the ‘piece de resistance’ – the Yorkshire puddings. By this time the son born in London arrived and together we followed the instructions. There were no drippings from the now properly cooked beef.  I say, properly cooked, even though the thermometer I had inserted was now completely melted and destroyed. Only the metal probe remained. But another less fancy thermometer told us it was medium rare, which was our goal. We put  a small amount of oil in each of the muffin tin slots – 2 x 24 in all (two trays) and put the tins in the oven at a high temperature. When son concluded they were sufficiently hot, we took them out, I ladled in the precious mixture, and quickly put them back in the oven for 20 minutes. What emerged was…. perfection! We even had extra gravy to add. The only problem is that we could easily have eaten another trayful because we, at that point, were 7 adults and 4 grandchildren.


Yorkshire puddings… yay!

The roast potatoes were a bit burned. The cauliflower was overlooked. The broccoli and carrots were fine. Good wine. Amazing chocolate trifle desert made by daughter rendered the need to try to rescue the Plum Pudding that had burned unnecessary. Tonight I start in on the far too few left-overs, so I conclude that, all in all, we did pretty well.





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5 Responses to Boxing Day Cooking: tribulations and triumph

  1. Tamara Pless-Amonte says:

    Having personally attended this soiree i thought the Roast Beef was one of the best i had ever eaten! The yorkshire puds were also amazing as was the broccoli. I cannot say what sad tragedy befell the potatoes but sometimes bad things happen to good vegetables…

  2. Judith Friedland says:

    I am SO impressed! Truly. So many tricky dishes, such a large menu, and no food processor!!

  3. Patricia Kirby says:

    Thank you for the chuckle brought on by the mince smears around the tarts. Ambitious cook you are…

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