Ploughman’s lunch is so typically English. I understand there is mention of Ploughman’s Lunch as far back as the 18th century. That would make sense, because it consists primarily of hearty food that can easily be take out into the field in the morning, for consumption at lunch time. This was often referred to as a Ploughboy’s lunch. It became pub fare in the late 1950’s, and was made hugely popular in the 1960’s when the Milk Marketing Board promoted the meal to boost sales of English cheese. It’s such a classic combination with balanced flavours and textures: crunchy pickles, smooth cheese, sweet chutney, tangy pickles, soft bread and firm meat.
I love old fashioned food that’s done well. I have always loved corned beef silverside, probably because it was one of the popular mum/grandma recipes of Anglo-Saxon Australia that I never got in my house. I had a very dear friend growing up, I loved her whole family, and they used to have corned beef. I used to get so excited about it, and they would all be very surprised. Anyway, we picked up a piece of silverside from my favourite beef producers at the market last week, and corned it according to Manda’s own recipe. It turned out delicious (not that that’s surprising considering the quality of the beef and the recipe she provided).
I’ve been reading through my new copy of ‘The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book’ and getting terribly excited about all the pickles and curing. So I picked up a jar of dill cucumbers yesterday to have ploughman’s lunch. Gosh it was good. I sliced off a chunk of crusty bread, two thick slices of that delicious corned beef, some wedges of local aged cheddar, a scoop of the beautiful Pepe Saya’s cultured butter, two dill pickles, three honey balsamic pickled onions and a little dish of tomato chutney. If it weren’t so grey out, I’d have wanted to eat it on the grass, but the light was lovely at my table looking out my big window into the springtime drizzle.