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BVC Eats: A St. Gildas Day breakfast

It is January 30, ten years ago. Last night, we had held our traditional St. Gildas Day party. (We can only have this breakfast after we’ve baked a ham, because you need the drippings pan to make it.) The morning after, this pan contains a mixture of about a 3/4 cup of melted ham fat, 1/2 cup water-based ham juices, 1/2 cup of extremely overbaked brown-sugar-and-yellow-mustard glaze, and random bits of ham, cracklings, and rind that fall off during the carving phase.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees f. Put the drippings pan in there and, once the ham fat has melted, take the pan out and stir it thoroughly and carefully with a whisk or wooden spoon to mix up the fat, brown sugar, and ham juice.

About ten minutes before you start the next step, put the drippings pan back in the oven to reheat it, until the fat-mix is bubbling.

Now you toss three room-temperature eggs into a high-speed blender for 1 minute. At 1 minute, gradually add 3/4 cup milk and whirl for 30 seconds. Then gradually add 3/4 cup flour and whirl for 30 seconds longer.

Pour this into the now-bubbling-hot stuff in the drippings pan, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the batter is puffed up and browned.

There will be a puffy dough, browned on top in most places, with gooey gummy brown sugary sauce around it and under it. It’s pretty darned salty and sweet, and fatty, and super-rich-tasting. You won’t want lunch after this breakfast. I like a little honey or something on top, to offset the salt. Other people dust it with powdered sugar. Hubby takes it straight.

This is what some call Yorkshire pudding and some call a Dutch baby pancake.

Oh, and St. Gildas? We chose him because his Saints Day fell on the day we decided we needed another party to help us survive the winter. He was one of four St. Gildases (who knew?), and probably the crabbiest of the lot. Fourth Century English hermit. Lived 360 days of the year in a cave, then visited London one week a year with his followers–I guess hermits have followers–taking notes. Then he spent the rest of the year writing 500-page letters to the Pope about what sinners the English were.

Best St. Gildas story: He was crossing a river at a ford when he saw a comely pagan lassie, bathing. Presumably she was not wearing anything. His story is, “She tempted me, but I said, Get behind me, Satan!”

What probably actually happened was this: She was bathing in the river and smelled this terrible smell, looked around, and saw St. Gildas. ”Yo, hermit! You could do with a bath, too, you know!” And he thought to himself, “She spoke to me! She likes me!”


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