Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding – The Traditional British Sunday Lunch

Traditional British Sunday Lunch

Thousands of pubs in Great Britain, especially those outside of London, offer a “Sunday Lunch” every week.  Traditionally, the main feature is a standing rib roast, which is always accompanied by Yorkshire pudding and amazingly crunchy roast potatoes.  You always get a nice dessert (also called a “pudding”) and plenty of liquid libations.  It is truly a great winter classic meal.

In younger days, my wife and I spent a wonderful year working and studying in London.  We have returned many times since.  Recently, a good friend from the U.K., Stewart, married an American girl (woman, whatever) and relocated to the U.S.  He is a great cook and after reminiscing about some wonderful pub afternoons in England, we got the urge to prepare a traditional British “Sunday Lunch”.  We decided to make it a group event and invited our friends Bob and Andy and their wives.  We shopped on Saturday and got all of the ingredients.  We met at Stewart’s house a little after noon on Sunday, divvied up the cooking tasks and began work with the football game on in the background.

We told Bob that we were going to prepare a great classic meal that everyone should try.  He responded that his body is also one of those classics that he thought every female should try.  As the group threw food, I told him that this was the 73rd time so far that day that he had talked or thought about sex, which was one above the male average – and it was still early.

The traditional “Sunday Lunch” usually starts with a glass of sherry or a half pint of ale or English bitter, served with some smoked salmon on toast points.  We had Bob begin working on that part of the menu to quiet him down.

Salmon on Toast Points

Salmon on Toast Points

Stewart worked on the roast.  He has a great recipe where he encrusts the outside with a salt, pepper and horseradish sauce and puts it in the oven at 500 degrees for 5 minutes multiplied by the weight in pounds.  We had an 11 lb. roast, so he put it in for 55 minutes.  He then turns the oven off, and doesn’t open it for two hours.  The result is perfect.  The end pieces are well done and it is almost rare in the very middle.  Everyone should get what they want, although Bob was never asked what he wanted for obvious reasons.

The Perfect Roast

The meat should be timed to come out of the oven about 4:00PM.  While the meat was resting, we made a red wine reduction sauce with the drippings, which goes on top of the meat and the Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire Pudding is a sexy and intriguing name for a type of puffy savory dinner roll.  Names are really important in the Bravado Cooking world.  If you tell your guests that you’re going to serve roast beef, gravy and dinner rolls, the “excitement meter” will remain at zero.  However, if you tell them that you are going to prepare a horseradish encrusted standing rib roast with “Yorkshire Pudding” and a red wine reduction sauce, ears will perk up and everyone wilI experience a period of titillating anticipation.

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding has an unmistakable taste and is wonderful with the red wine reduction sauce.  Below, we will give you a foolproof way to make this British favorite.  “Yorkies” are quick and fun to make with everyone around.  You can have the batter ready and make them as soon as the meat comes out.  You will get some oohs and aahs and a little swooning from the women when they see them come out of the oven.  Maybe you will start to understand why men who cook enjoy 62% more sex.

The other staple for the “Sunday Brunch” is a simple potato that is peeled, lightly coated with flour and rosemary and then baked at a high temperature for a long period of time.  The result is a roasted potato with a very crunchy exterior but a very soft inside.

Crusty Roasted Potatoes

Crusty Roasted Potatoes

There would typically be one or two vegetables served also – typically peas and carrots, or Brussel sprouts, or maybe some roasted broccoli and cauliflower with a cheese sauce.  Beverages would include red wine, English bitter, or a good Pale Ale.

A complete “full on Sunday Lunch” would include two more courses – a “pudding” (or what we would call dessert) and a cheese plate, maybe with some figs and grapes and, obviously, a glass of Port.

One of the most famous of British “puddings” is something called Spotted Dick.  Needless to say, there was no way we were going to select that one with Bob around.  Even the British giggle over the name and they really have no idea where it came from.  It is also difficult to make.  We decided to do another favorite, Bread and Butter Pudding, which is quick and easy and equally classic.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding

The whole meal is a little bit of work, but not as much as you think, especially with the whole group helping.  However, you really need a kitchen with two ovens.  The timing works like this:

  • Get the roast in the first oven (500 degrees) by 1:00PM.  When the roast comes out at about 3:00PM, use that oven for the Yorkshire pudding (350 degrees).
  • Put the potatoes in the second oven (450 degrees) at about 1.30PM.
  • When the potatoes are finished, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake the Bread and Butter Pudding.
  • Start making the red wine reduction as soon as the meat comes out of the oven.

Everything should be ready to go at about 4:30PM.

Here are the recipes for 8 people:

Smoked Salmon on Toast Points:


  • 8 slices of your favorite bread, toasted and cut into triangles (if you can’t figure out how to do that, stop now because you’re in over your head).
  • ½ pound of smoked salmon
  • 1 packet of cream cheese
  • 1 red onion, chopped very fine
  • 1 jar of capers


Put the cream cheese on the toast, top with onions and capers and cap with smoked salmon.  This technique keeps you from dropping capers and onion all over the place.

Standing Rib Roast


  • Roasting pan with rack to keep the meat off the bottom of the pan
  • 8-10 lb. Standing rib roast with bones in and tied with baking twine.
  • 1 8 oz. jar of horseradish
  • 1 tbsp. Kosher or Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Rub a little olive oil on the outside of the roast.  Mix the horseradish, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and spread over the exterior.
  2. Use Stewart’s secret baking technique described above.
  3. Remove the meat to a carving board, cover lightly with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.  Carve in slices about ¼” thick.

Red Wine Reduction Gravy


  • 1 bottle of red wine (any inexpensive, heavier wine will do)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt and pepper


  1. After removing the roast, tip the baking pan and remove some but not all of the excess fat with a big spoon.
  2. Put the pan on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium high.  Add the bottle of wine, bring to a boil and scrape the bottom to deglaze.
  3. In a saucepan, melt two tbsp. of butter and slowly mix in four tbsp. of flour.   Add ½ tsp. of salt and pepper.  Cook and stir on medium heat until mixture bubbles.  You now have a nice roux, which you will add to the meat dripping/wine mixture.
  4. Stirring occasionally, let the liquid reduce to about one-half.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

Yorkshire Pudding


  • Muffin baking tin – cap. 12
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix the eggs, flour and milk thoroughly until frothy
  3. Put one tsp. of oil in each muffin cup and put tin in oven for 5 minutes so oil heats fully
  4. Take hot tin out of the oven and fill each cup 2/3 full with batter
  5. Bake for 30 minutes and serve immediately.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes


  • Large baking pan
  • 8 medium-sized baking potatoes – peeled and cut into cubes about 1-1/2 to 2 inches on a side.
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp. fresh Rosemary – chopped fine
  • ½ tsp. each of salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes.  Don’t let them get too soft.  Pour the potatoes into a colander and let cool.
  3. Put 1/8” of vegetable oil in the bottom of the baking pan and put into the oven to heat.
  4. Shake the potatoes vigorously in the colander to roughen the outsides. Put the potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Mix well.
  5. Remove the hot baking pan from the oven and add the potatoes.  Spoon the hot oil on top of the potatoes.  Return and roast for one hour, turning them after 30 minutes.
  6. Cool and serve.

The Veggies

In the wintertime, the easiest thing to do is to buy frozen peas, carrots and green beans.  The steamer packs that go in the microwave are just perfect.  There is enough to do without getting complicated with the veggies.

Bread and Butter Pudding


  •  Rectangular glass baking dish
  • Electric hand mixer
  • One loaf of plain white bread
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup of golden raisins
  • 3 cups of milk
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter the bread (excluding the heels) and cut each slice into four triangles
  3. Grease the baking dish with butter and cover the bottom with a layer of bread.  Top with about 1/3 of the raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Repeat until you have three layers.  Save some raisins for the top.
  4. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan, but do not boil
  5. With the hand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar until smooth and light yellow.  Slowly add the milk/cream mixture and the vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg while continuing to mix on low speed.
  6. Pour the milk/cream/egg/spice mixture over the bread and press the bread down lightly with a spatula so that it is covered with liquid.
  7. Top with brown sugar and some raisins.  Bake for 45 minutes and serve.

Cheese and Port

Typically, this is an olio of things including cheeses, crackers, nuts and fruit.  You can use your own imagination.  Try to get a blue cheese (Stilton would be nice), an aged Cheddar and maybe a Camembert.  Port wine is not terribly expensive and you need some anyway for cooking.

Categories: Classic British Dishes, Classic Recipes by Type, Diary of a Wandering Foodie, Travels and Soirees

3 replies

  1. Now that roast beef and Yorkshire pudding combination is tough to resist!

  2. Actually it’s 74 and who needs pot roast anyway.

  3. This will be my husbands next dinner for the family! Thanks!

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