Christmas dinner at the UK chains. No, they're not all awful
The Guardian has the best writers, I swear.
Certainly the most progressive.
Excellent food writing as well.
Unparalleled in wit. I don’t care much for football, but the Guardian’s recent take on Fox’s coverage was spit-out-your-drink funny.
Thanks - I really enjoyed reading that. I had no idea that pigs in blankets are part of Christmas dinner. They are one of my favorite things to eat! I just looked them up and see that British ones are wrapped in bacon rather than pastry. Possibly even better. I’ll have to make some.
Whilst sausage & bacon have long been traditional additions to Christmas dinner, I think putting them together like this is a fairly recent development. In this house, they are cooked separately as, at least, my family tradition demands. The bacon used is streaky (American) bacon which is stretched thin and then tightly rolled up. And the sausages have to be thin chipolatas - this is not a time for thick juicy sausages.
By the by, my Christmas cookery “bible” is “Delia Smith’s Christmas” published in 1990. She prepares her bacon & sausage as I do, tending to confirm that the pigs in blankets have arrived on the table sometime in theblast 30 years. Interestingly, Wikipedia credits Smith with popularising them in the 1990s. But then if any food was popularised in the 1990s, Smith is usually credited with it
Hilarious. In my opinion British streaky bacon is never as fat and crispy as North American - pigs in blankets, no thanks.
I also had no idea that in the UK, mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner is heresy.
Here ya go
That was a very fun read, thanks! All Bar One opened in Richmond when I lived there in the UK in the 90’s. I always liked their food, not earth-shattering, just dependably good. Glad to see he liked their Christmas offering, would be happy to eat it.
I mentioned this to my partner. Her response (which I fully endorse):
What? NO! Mashed potatoes are the whole POINT! They’re a way to consume an irresponsible amount of butter!
The US and UK are separated by more than a common language.
I used to stay around the Richmond area when I was researching at the National Archives in Kew. For some while, I was doing a couple of trips a year for 3 or 4 nights each. Hotels in neighbouring Brentford were usually cheaper but, from time to time, there would be a bargain in Richmond. Always a good area for restaurants.
Roast potatoes are our healthy carb option. Studies show that the average adult Briton will eat around 5500 calories on Christmas Day. That said, I regard the average adult Briton to be a lightweight Christmas eater.
Last night we watched a “London Special” show of Barefoot Contessa (from 2010, I think). It is difficult to know exactly where to start my rant. But after some thought…
I’ll start with the Ploughman’s Lunch which they ate at the Harwood Arms - a sort of gastropub (but actually a Michelin starred restaurant in a building that used to be a pub). Now, my starting point point here is that, to the best of my knowledge, the Harwood (where I have eaten) does not do anything as mundane as a Ploughman’s and never has done. Then, what is put in front of Ina and Jeffrey was not even a Ploughman’s. Yes, it included the elements of a genuine Ploughman’s but added in all sorts of other things, like ham and pork pie. Ina describes the pork pie as like pate in pastry. No, it fecking isn’t. And the British chef, who should have known better and kept his mouth shut, but ramlbled on with his opinion about the origin of the Ploughman’s - spouting tosh that it must have been what ploughmen used to eat in the fields a century or two back. No, it fecking isn’t. Yes, of course, ploughmen will have eaten a lunch but the ploughman’s lunch, as we know it and as we see it sold in pubs, dates only back to the 1960s, when the Milk Marketing Board first promoted it a way of increasing sales of cheese.
However, I digress from the subject of mashed potato. Ina makes lunch for her and Jeffrey and decides on “bangers and mash”. Or, to be pedantic “banger and mash” as she only serves one sausage to each of them. But the mash is just vile. To perfectly good potatoes, she adds butter, creme fraiche and milk. And then beats it all with an electric hand whisk. It becomes so sloppy that you could almost pour it. Looks totally unappetising to me. Just awful. And there’s no onion gravy! A travesty.
Tell me about onion gravy.
Carmelized onions in butter and salt/sugar until deeply browned tender, beef broth, Worcestershire, cornstarch slurry, black pepper, and the herbs of your choice, with a dash of acid (mustard, vinegar, wine, etc.)
Really good stuff!
Edit: great with shrooms as well during the caramelizing of the onions.
Casa Harters’ onion gravy.
Thinly slice onions and slowly fry in butter and oil, till soft. Add flour. Add beef stock and cook till it thickens. Season. Serve.
You just have to have onion gravy with sausage & mash.
That onion gravy sounds like it would be fab with a roast.
That can’t be true John, as a child we ate pigs in blankets since the the late 70’s though we didn’t call them that. Mother would buy thin pork chipolatas and ENGLISH streaky bacon from our local pork butchers, Yates and Greer, Dozens were made for Christmas day and I would eat at least a dozen, much preferring them to turkey. We would eat smoked salmon, duck parfait and Dublin Bay prawns to start with then I’d be straight on to the PiBs. Bugger to Delia. Yates and Greer are a NW Lancashire butcher with the most exquisite pork pies that have formed my frame since youth.