It’s the start of British Food Fortnight, a celebration of everything that’s great about the food we eat as a nation.
As a British company which has been supplying chilled food to the UK’s biggest supermarkets for over 25 years, we are tremendously proud of the contribution we have made to the sector.
When deciding what to write about this week, we thought we would focus on some of the weird and wonderful dishes that are served across Britain – the regional delicacies which sum up everything which is great about this small island of ours.
As a Teesside company, we just had to start with the Parmo. If you are not familiar with this culinary classic, it’s a dish originating in Middlesbrough consisting of a breaded cutlet or chicken or pork topped with a white bechamel sauce and cheese. The name of the dish, a Parmesan to give its full title, is reference to the Italian dish parmigiana, but that’s where the similarity ends.
The Parmo has always been a takeaway favourite served with chips and salad, although the latter is very unnecessary, but over the years it has also made its way onto menus at some very good restaurants and five-star hotels.
Looking even further north, we arrive at Scotland and no, we’re not going to talk about black pudding or haggis, because that’s now as common as, well a deep-fried Mars bar. No, instead we would like to introduce you to the red pudding.
Served mainly at chip shops north of the border it consists of bacon, beef, pork, pork rind, suet, rusks, spices, salt, beef stock, beef fat and, not surprisingly, red colouring.
Granted it may not sound great but trust us when we say that once you try one, it won’t be the last!
So, to the north west. Lots of different regional varieties to choose from here but we’re opting for Scouse, a dish not surprisingly which hails from Liverpool. It’s a kind of lamb or beef stew served with beetroot and white bread. Yes, you heard us correctly, you top it with beetroot and it’s delicious!
We’ve now arrived in the Midlands and give you Brummie bacon cakes. They are savoury scones with cheese and bacon and a sauce consisting of a mixture of tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and milk. They’re very popular at breakfast.
We head south west from here. It would be easy to choose a Cornish pasty or Devon cream tea, but we’re plumping for Stargazy pie. Bear with us here because what we’re talking about is effectively a pasty but it’s the filling that will surprise you. The filling contains egg and potatoes and the piece de resistance, pilchard or sardine with its head and tail sticking out of the pastry. We’ll leave it there!
Can the south east and London beat that? Well yes, they can. Ladies and gentleman – we give you the Bedfordshire Clanger. It’s like a massive Cornish pastry; the massive difference being that one end is filled with savoury (beef skirt and onions) and the other end is sweet (either cooked pears or jam). Why, we hear you ask? Well historically clangers were made for men to take to their agricultural work and instead of having to take separate sweet and savoury food to put in their lunchbox, they simply combined the two. Genius!
On that note we’ll leave you with something a bit more traditional to mark British Food Fortnight.
Bacon and thyme scone topped chicken, leek and mushroom pie
For the scone:
Self-raising flour 700g
Baking powder 10g
Unsalted butter 250g
Dried thyme 1 tsp
Crispy bacon 85g
Extra mature cheddar cheese grated 100g
- In a kitchen mixer with the dough hook attached mix all the dry ingredients with butter to form a breadcrumb. Then add the cheese, bacon and milk, not all at once but in two stages to form a soft dough.
- Empty on to a flat floured surface and roll out to about 1.5cm thick then cut out your scones with circle cutter or a fluted cutter. Bake 160oc for about 12-15 minutes until light and fluffy. Once cooked leave to cool.
- Maris piper potatoes 1x bag
- Salt 15g
- Rapeseed oil
- Cut the potatoes into quarters and put in a pan with salt and cold water and boil until just cooked. Drain into a metal colander moving them about to ‘ruffle’ the edges to get a real crisp outside.
- Then on a baking tray drizzle with the rapeseed oil and bake 190oc until golden brown and crispy.
Green beans vinaigrette salad:
- Green beans prepared and ready to cook
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- In a pan bring to the boil salted water add the fine beans and cook until tender, making sure they don’t squeak when chewed. In a bowl add 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar and mix. Drain the green beans and then toss them in the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.
- Unsalted butter 100g
- Plain flour 100g
- Cream 60g
- White wine 50mls
- Chicken stock 1450mls
- Salt and pepper
- In a large pan make a roux. Start by melting the butter on a medium heat, once melted add the flour and cook out while keep on stirring making sure not to burn the roux.
- Then gradually add the chicken stock stirring as you add it making sure there are no lumps and it’s smooth.
- Once all incorporated keep cooking until thickened then add the wine, cream and seasoning. Taste and adjust accordingly, it should be rich, full of flavour and have a slight piquancy.
Chicken, leek and mushroom fill:
- Free range chicken breast x2
- Rapeseed oil 2tbsp
- Carrots peeled and diced x3
- Garden peas 150g
- Button mushrooms 150g
- Leeks 150g
- Onion diced 150g
- Garlic cloves x2
- Mature cheddar cheese grated 100g
- Salt and pepper
- In a pan with the oil, season and fry off the chicken breast until cooked and golden brown, leave to one side on a plate to rest.
- In the same frying pan with the left over oil and chicken juices fry off the onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and leeks.
- Once tender add the peas and chicken and mix with the chicken gravy, you may not need all the gravy so either serve with it or use as another base for a chicken soup. Taste and check for seasoning.
- Then top with scones where the scones don’t meet fill with cheese and bake till golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
- Serve with the roast potatoes and green beans. Enjoy