Taking the traditional ploughman’s lunch to the next level.
In his book ‘British Cheese on Toast’, Steve Parker created over 100 different recipes each using farmhouse or artisan British cheeses. They were served on a variety of bread styles and accompanied by an unbelievably diverse range of other ingredients, everything from cherries to anchovies to haggis to crystallised ginger. We caught up with cheese expert Steve and asked him to create the ULTIMATE BRITISH CHEESE ON TOAST for Marasby.
No Ingredient Is Off Limits
Steve started by saying that this is not really a recipe, more of a directional inspiration and you should feel free to make any changes you want, adding items that you really enjoy whilst leaving out things that you are less keen on. He is keen to stress however, that you should source and use British ingredients wherever possible.
“In the past year I have visited over 100 vineyards and even more cheese dairies in Britain and as well as these two products, I have been amazed by range and the exceptionally high quality of locally made ingredients. With only a little effort, it would be possible to eat and drink everything sourced from Britain”. In addition to cheese and wine, the selection of hams, cold meats, pâtés, chutneys and pickles is incredible.
The Ploughman’s Lunch Was Invented In The 50’s
The Ultimate Cheese on Toast must by nature contain most of our favourite things and clearly everyone’s list is going to be different. Being a traditionalist, mine is going to be based around that all-time favourite, Ploughman’s Lunch. Many people think that the Ploughman’s Lunch is a long established historical meal enjoyed by agricultural labourers for many centuries. In truth, it was invented in the 1950s by the Cheese Bureau as a way of promoting the sale of British cheeses. So actually it’s the same age as me!!
There isn’t a slice of bread big enough to create the ultimate cheese on toast, so with a little creativity, we are going to build a cheese in toast, using a small loaf!
Steve’s Ultimate Cheese In Toast Method
1/ Take a small farmhouse loaf and cut it in half lengthwise from the top. Scoop most of the breadcrumb out of one half (freeze these for use in some other recipe) leaving about 1cm inside the crust so that you have a ‘bread bowl’. The other half can be used in the same way to share with someone, unless you are REALLY hungry!
2/ Melt butter and using a pastry brush coat the inside of the ‘bread bowl’.
3/ Layer the following starting at the bottom:
Branston pickle, cheddar (sliced), pickled onions (sliced), sliced ham, sliced apple, more cheddar (sliced)
These are the basic ingredients for a traditional Ploughman’s, but if you are inclined to add some more levels of flavour and pimp it up a little, you can add any of the following…
Stilton (crumbled), pâté, egg (sliced) or anything else you fancy.
4/ Sprinkle some of the removed breadcrumbs on top of the filled ‘Cheese in Toast’ and pop the whole thing in a preheated oven at 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for 15-20 minutes allowing the cheese to melt and the bread to toast to a medium brown.
Dig in an enjoy with your favourite glass of English Wine. Or try with a Traditional Method cider.