Though it’s popularity has declined in recent years, a ploughman’s lunch usually consists of crusty bread, a thick piece of proper cheddar cheese, ham, pickle, apple and onions served with beer. It used to be quite a common snack or lunch in pubs around the UK, but the decline of a pint at lunchtime, the rise in popularity of the sandwich, and people demanding more sophisticated food has meant a decline in this simple but tasty British classic.
The name ‘ploughman’s lunch’ was coined by the Milk Marketing Board in the 1960s, to help increase the sales of cheese in the UK, but the dish itself exists before then, known as a ‘plough-boy’s lunch’. The pickle in a ploughman’s isn’t gherkins (pickled cucumbers), but it is a type of relish or chutney made from vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, onions, gherkins and swede in a sauce made from vinegar, apple, dates, tomatoes and spices and sugar. The most common variety in the UK is Branston Pickle, which is available in the ethnic isles of some larger supermarkets in the US.
For our Diamond Jubilee party I de-constructed the ploughman’s lunch and using small pastry cases, re-build it as an Hors d’oeuvre. I made the pastry cases, since I wasn’t able to find suitable ones in the shops, but I’ll write about the pastry another time. In the meantime you could use my flour empanadas pastry recipe, cut out 2″ (5cm) circles, form them into shape in a 2″ (5cm) muffin tray and cook them at 400F (200C) for about 15mins.
- 2″ (5cm) pastry cases
- Cooked ham
- Green onion (Spring Onion)
- Cheddar Cheese
- Granny Smith Apple
- Lemon Juice
- Branston Pickle
Cut the ham, celery, onion, cheese and apple into 1.5″ (4cm) strips, about 0.5″ (1cm) wide. To prevent the apple going brown place it in a bowl with a little lemon juice. Squeeze a small amount of mayonnaise into a pastry case to act as a glue. Then add the strips of ham, celery, onion, cheese and apple end up into the mayonnaise. Add a small amount of the pickle. Enjoy with a nice cold glass of beer, or even a glass of bubbles.