Morwenna Ferrierier The chickenfilled yorkshire pudding offers no-fuss nostalgiaia
This month, Aldi launched a chicken-fi lled yorkshire pudding to more newspaper coverage than you would expect for what is in effect a ready meal. Maybe it was just the fact that someone had launched a ready meal in 2018. Or, maybe it was the fact that the meal in question manages to contain all the Britishness and nostalgia of a roast dinner, without the prep, for just £ 2.49. Food delivery company Deliveroo charges a penny more for delivery alone.
The chicken-fi lled yorkshire pudding is a no-fuss, frill-free product. There is a fi lm lid, a cardboard sleeve and a foil dish that contains the following: one giant yorkshire pudding, chunks of British chicken, balls of pork-and-onion stuffi ng, onion gravy, roast potato and a pork chipolata that is encased, it states, in beef collagen – information I could have lived without. It takes 50 minutes to cook from frozen.
In concept and optics – it’s incredibly brown to look at – it’s the culinary equivalent of a Mike Leigh play about middle England. But it’s not trying to win a Michelin star and, looks aside, it’s tasty, given the price. The chicken doesn’t shrink in the heat; rather, it’s fi rm, tender and, once doused in gravy, moist. The stuffi ng has that prepacked herbiness that clings to your tongue like a savoury perfume, but which is oddly reassuring. Collagen aside, the sausage is small but great. Then there’s the yorkshire pudding, the width of a dinner plate, which rises like the moon and crisps up nicely like a biscuit if left in the oven slightly too long. Almost round, it acts as both bowl and cutlery, designed as it is to be torn and used as a scoop. This is the best pre-made yorkshire pudding I’ve eaten, even if it eventually disintegrates in the gravy.
There are lots of reasons this works well, but convenience, that great liberator from labour, is not one of them. It takes ages to cook and doesn’t come with any vegetables (a huge oversight). This means you have to prepare your own, which is the least fun part of cooking.
It works because of the tyranny of nostalgia, the surprisingly low calorie count (577), the fact that whatever is not edible can be recycled (or so declares the packaging). But mostly it works due to the timing: in October, when half a million students are suddenly crippled by homesickness, cash shortages and, moreover, an inability to cook.
Aldi are not trying to split the atom here. They are trying to make something cheap in an age of austerity – and a pleasing reminder of a simpler time.