I went into this pub, and I ate a ploughman's lunch. He was livid.
~Tommy Cooper, British Comedian
Ahhh . . . the ploughman's lunch . . . you can't get more British or traditional than a ploughman's lunch. With all of this hot weather, this is traditional pub fare that anyone can get sorted and onto the table without much fuss at all.
What is a ploughman's lunch? At it's very simplest, it comprises a nothing more than a thick wedge of crusty bread, a large chunk of tasty cheese and a pickled onion.It came into favor at a time when most pub's didn't actually serve much food at all, but nowadays pub's are mainly eating places, so it's become much more than that. It's an easy meal to prepare on these hot summer days. You don't need to turn the cooker on and so you can keep your cool.
Cheese is an important aspect of the Ploughman's Lunch. Traditionally the cheese would have been locally made . . . so it could have been anything from Stilton to Wensleydale. Cheddar became the the standard and most popular cheese of choice for ploughman's lunches served in pubs in the 1960's, but I am happy to say that nowadays it is not at all unusual to have a Stilton or even a non-Anglo cheese such as a Brie or a Camembert. When I saw the name of this cheese here today, I could not resist. I just had to buy it.
Kick Ass Roasted Onion, Garlic and Chive Cheddar. It did live up to it's name, in every way. It kicked ass and it was delicious, with the wonderful tang of a good cheddar mixed with just a hint of chive and onion, and a nice hit of garlic. Well flavoured and delicious it was . . .
In some pubs you won't find any cheese at all on the plate, instead opting for some ham or even a European Salami or even smoked sausage. I used both ham and cheese. I was lucky enough to be able to buy some ham ends at the market at only 70p for 100g. I took 200g and it was fabulous. I liked that it was chunky for the most part and very rustic in appearance.
We did not have the traditional pickled onion with ours. Whilst the Toddster does enjoy a pickled onion, I find them to be quite harsh and I don't really enjoy them. Back home I did enjoy sweet pickled onions, but the huge ones they have over here, pickled in malt vinegar are a bit too strong for my liking. Instead we had a chutney . . . still somewhat of a pickle, but sweeter and a bit spicy.
I added some sliced apple, but you could do grapes, or pears if you prefer. I am not sure that fruit is traditional, but I know that it goes very well with the chutney, the jam AND the cheese. So it's a win/win/win situation all over the plate.
I had no crusty bread . . . only a day old ciabatta loaf, but it worked beautifully, spread with some black pepper Boursin . . .
I added some salad leaves and sliced cucumber to bring some colour and healthy crunch to the plate. Radishes would be nice also. Again, not totally traditional, but . . . meh . . . it's my lunch, my choice.
Traditional or not . . . pickled onion, or chutney, or even Branstons . . . ham or cheese or both . . . apples or grapes or no fruit at all . . . some tasty ham and a nice hunk of well flavoured cheese, some crusty bread and a bit of salad. This went down a real treat, and it was cheap too.
We both enjoyed. Summer food. Pub food. Tasty and enjoyable. What more could a ploughman want?