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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Ploughman’s Lunch: Recipe

The Ploughman’s Lunch as the term for what is essentially a meal of bread and cheese is not as ancient as many think. It was, in fact, coined by the Milk Marketing Board in Britain in the 1960’s as a promotional device to boost the sales of cheese, in which is was very successful. So, although the name conjures up bucolic images of a weatherbeaten ploughman letting his horse graze while he sits on a tree stump munching his lunch, washed down, no doubt, with a mug of ale or cider, the term is less than fifty years old.

Of course, people have been eating meals of bread and cheese since their invention, but the original Ploughman’s Lunch has a few “traditional” accompaniments and garnishes, and as a pub lunch throughout Britain today you will find many variations on the theme. Some Ploughman’s Lunches will be wonderful, some will be dire, and sadly too many will just be mediocre.

I wrote about how even a simple sandwich can be raised to the sublime in my first ever post as The Guerrilla Griller, “The Cheese Sandwich Concept” which you can read here. The same rules apply for your Ploughman’s Lunch: only use the really good ingredients (which does not have to mean the most expensive) – good bread, good cheese etc. Don’t buy plastic cheese and fluffy supermarket sliced bread: they aren’t saving you money, they’re ripping you off.

Ploughman’s Lunch: Recipe

(I find it a little odd calling it a recipe, as it’s more an assembly on a plate, but here’s the “proper” selection.)

Good Bread – a chunk of crusty baguette or good bakers bread
Butter (not gunky spread, and don’t pre-butter the bread)
Good Cheese – Cheddar, Caerphilly, Cheshire, Stilton, or a favourite local cheese from your part of the world. One, or no more than two, varieties on your plate – it’s not supposed to be a cheese board. Break or cut the cheese into good chunks, not measly slices.
Pickled Onions – only if you can get really good, tangy, crisp ones
Other Pickle – a dab on the side of the plate, or a couple of spoonfuls in a ramekin or similar. Any pickle you really enjoy, such as sweet pickle, piccalilli, pickled walnuts: whatever tickles your appetite.
A good crisp Apple

Optional Additions: (Use some, not all of these, or you’re basically making a cheese salad, which is fine if that’s what you fancy eating today, but won’t strictly be a Ploughman’s Lunch)

A tomato or two, quartered.  A spring onion/scallion, or a few thin slices of raw onion.  A stick of celery, sliced if you like.  Perhaps a few leaves of crisp lettuce.

Ploughman’s Lunch: Method

To be a true Ploughman’s Lunch, it should all be piled (sorry, attractively arranged) on one large plate per person. If you’re eating in company, I don’t think anyone would really mind if you put the bits in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves, but it’s not (ahem) “traditional”.

Variations on The Ploughman’s Lunch

As noted in the first paragraph, Ploughman’s Lunch was originally a marketing device for cheese, but travel the length and breadth of Britain, visiting many pubs as you go (good idea) and you will find Sausage Ploughman’s, Ham Ploughman’s, Roast Beef Ploughman’s, and somewhere probably a Chicken Tikka Masala Ploughman’s Lunch too. As long as you stick to the only truly important rule, which is to use really good ingredients, you’ll have a great meal. And Ploughman’s Lunch doesn’t have to just be for lunch – I’ve had Ploughman’s Breakfast, Ploughman’s Supper and Ploughman’s Midnight Snack before now.

1 comment:

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