Saturday, 7 July 2012

Pub Classics

Are you reading this blog from another part of the world? France, Australia, Canada, the US or from Eastern Europe?

Amazingly, it would seem that you are-according to my 'stats' on Blogspot. Who would have thought it?

 Certainly not me. 

Well, obviously the Britishness of the content isn't putting people off and just as well because - today we are heading for the pub!

We are lucky to have so many lovely pubs in Sussex- and some great breweries. The men (and some of the women ) in my family do love their pint of Harveys or Long Man.

I, as you know, rarely tipple anything other than my trusted French Sauvignon- but I still love going to the pub for a good hearty meal.
 I don't want anything gastronomic or too fancy- as pubs rarely do that well- but pub classics are hard to beat when you're in the mood for something simple and tasty.

So, what's on the Specials Board today?

Well, for those who don't know- a 'Ploughmans' is a simple lunch dish of bread, cheese and pickle. There are all sorts of variations- with Brie instead of Cheddar, pickled onions as well as chutney and different cold meats. I like to use leftover cold sausages to go with the Cheddar:

Fish and chips is next on the menu:

 I have to say I don't often cook this at home from scratch- it's one of those things that's worth going out for, as pubs and chip shops have so much better deep fat fryers and can cook the fish at a much higher temperature than I can. If you have a successful fish and chip recipe though, I'd love to hear it. Here's one I ate earlier:

Mushy peas though are a great vegetable to go with fried fish: just cook your peas the way you would normally but blitz them with a stick blender after cooking. It releases so much sweet flavour.

There are two other dishes that I often order in the pub- but they are both very simple to make at home too.

Firstly, liver and bacon with mash and gravy. Now, don't run away...liver is delicious, inexpensive and really good for you so don't be too scared to try it.
To make this dish a success, you need crispy bacon, really well seasoned and creamy mash and a good gravy. I'm assuming you've got the mash, and if you have leftover sauce from a boeuf bourgignon , a lamb casserole or a duck dish (and I hope by now you are keeping even a small jugful of leftover sauce in the fridge or freezer to re-use) then this will fit the bill. If you need to make a good gravy from the start- don't be ashamed to cheat and use onion gravy granules or mix, or a gravy thickener.

For crispy bacon, place your rashers on a baking tray and squash them down with another tray - so they cook through without curling up. Cook in a hot oven for 15 minutes and then remove the top tray and turn off the oven, so they keep warm and continue to crisp.

To prepare the liver- buy fresh lambs liver, thinly sliced by your butcher if you can. Dust with well seasoned flour. Heat a pan with some flavourless oil and fry the liver quickly in the hot pan. It will be cooked on one side when spots appear on the upper side. Turn it over and cook for another few minutes until caramelized.

Place in the warm oven with the bacon and make your gravy- deglaze the frying pan with a splash of red wine and boil rapidly to reduce and boil off the alcohol, add the leftover sauce or some meat stock and the chosen gravy thickener.

Serve immediately - mash, then the liver, topped with bacon and the gravy poured around. Fantastic!

Go on! Give it a go!

Anyway, the second dish I order (if there's no liver and bacon on the menu) is a bowl of chips with topping. 

Pubs offer this usually as Cheesy Chips, Chilli Chips, Chilli Cheesy Chips, Cheese and Onion get the picture- but you can top your chips with whatever you feel like or have leftover in the fridge.

The crucial bit- and excuse me for stating the obvious- is the chips.

You can fry your own chips, use oven chips, use Fries-to-go- whatever you fancy. I like a healthier version, made with jacket wedges.

I cook jacket potatoes in the microwave (5 minutes at 650w per potato), then slice them into wedges, toss them in olive oil, salt and seasoning (chilli flakes are good) and bake them again in a hot oven for 10 mins or until they are crispy and golden.

Add your topping- I like to use leftover chile con carne- but you can use anything at all- cheese, ham, eggs,  stew, salsa, anything.

So, what's left on the pub menu?

Cheeseburger perhaps?

I just have to show you this picture - an All Day Breakfast Burger from a pub menu (consumed alarmingly quickly by a  family member!)

I prefer my healthier version of home made burger in  a mushroom cup with salads. (For the recipe, you can click back to February blog 'So here goes..').

And as for the other Specials: lasagne and Fisherman's Pie, you can find the recipes for these two in February's blog 'We'll meat again...' and March 'Fishing for Compliments' respectively.

There are lots more Pub Classics which I could include here- and maybe will do at a later stage. Sausage and mash with onion gravy perhaps, or Steak and Ale Pie.

Do you have a particular favourite that you'd like me to cook for you? (In a virtual way).

In the meantime, it's Cheers! from me, Sante!, Prost!, Noroc! and Slainte Mhor!


  1. Dear Leftover Liz,

    I'm writing to you from the south of France, where the temperatures are in the mid 30's today; we've just had barbecued trout for lunch and we're about to find a shady spot for a siesta!

    How about a steak and ale pie to add to your pub grub menu? I'd love to know how to make a decent one, even if it's more of a wintery dish.

  2. Barbecued trout sounds lovely! Unfortunately, it is still pie weather here as our miserable British summer goes on.

    I am making a meat pie tomorrow as it happens- so will maybe start compiling some pie and pasty recipes to share with you, ready for the Autumn.

  3. Mmm, pub food =) Here in Aus, the pub standard is chicken parma (parmagiana). I've really no idea why; I'm assuming it's a corruption of some homesick postwar Italian emigrant's recipe. Do you have it in England too? I think it's quite simple to make (depending on how fancy you want it to be) but I've never tried.

    1. I don't know this recipe- but I looked it up and found this blog which had a recipe. I rather liked the sound of this bloggeuse

      See what you think of her blog page!

  4. Any chance of having your chile con carne recipes? I've never made one, and have seen some good recipes on the internet but they all look too spicy for me, and don't tend to agree on the flavour combinations to use.

  5. A chile con carne for me is just a spicy twist on the usual ragout mixture (minus olives or italian seasonings).
    Use a good quality minced beef and then when the mixture is at the simmering stage (after adding tomatoes or passata), add a tin of drained red kidney beans and 2 tsp of MILD chilli powder. After a few minutes, taste and see if it's spicy enough for you- if not, add 1 tsp more etc until you are happy. Always let the spice cook in a few minutes before tasting as it's flavour deepens as it cooks.

  6. Fabulous, thanks! I'll give it a try soon. We used leftover beef mince the other day to make spicy burritos, which is what got me thinking about chile recipes...