Best of British: culinary classics from the Old Dart

9 April, 2021

There’s more to British food than bangers and mash

Think of a classic British dish and chances are fish and chips might come to mind. But there’s a lot more to British cuisine than their unofficial national dish. As the weather gets cooler, it’s the perfect time to embrace some of the UK’s classic – but often bizarrely-named – dishes.

Why do Brits love fish and chips?

Such is the Brits’ love of fish and chips that it was one of the few foods not subject to rationing during World War 2. (Winston Churchill feared that the dish was so embedded in the nation’s culture that any limit would damage morale).

For a classic British-style fish and chips, Jamie Oliver dips white fish fillets in batter containing his (not-so) secret ingredient – beer. They are then deep-fried with chunky chips and served with another British staple – mushy peas. 

If the thought of all that deep-frying is making your waistband expand, check out these healthier versions:

What the heck is toad in the hole?

No one is quite sure how toad in the hole – sausages baked in batter – got its name, although it has been suggested it’s because the dish somehow resembles frogs peering out from a crevice. Righty-ho…

Originally created as a thrifty way to stretch out meat, toad in the hole is usually served with onion gravy and vegetables. 

  • Matt Preston’s secret is to make sure the hot fat in the baking dish is sizzling when the batter is added.
  • For a fancy twist, this recipe uses mustard, herbs and Cumberland Sausages.

The batter can also be used for Yorkshire puddings – the perfect accompaniment to roast beef. 

Did Gordon Ramsay invent Beef Wellington?

Fiery Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay is so known for his signature dish – Beef Wellington – that some people think he invented it. 

Although the origins of the dish – traditionally a piece of fillet steak that has been coated in pate and mushroom duxelle and then wrapped in puff pastry – are unclear, it was actually named after the first Duke of Wellington (who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815). 

  • Gordon’s recipe features a wild mushroom paste and Parma ham.
  • For a lighter take, this healthier version uses filo pastry instead of puff. 

Do you want to see the dessert menu?

Brits and dessert (or pudding, as they call it) go together like a jam roly poly and custard. Or a sticky toffee pudding or spotted dick and custard. You get the idea. Perhaps the ultimate British dessert is a classic trifle which, according to Nigella Lawson must have “lots of sponge, lots of jam, lots of custard and lots of cream.” Of the many trifle recipes she’s published, Nigella says this rhubarb and custard version is her favourite. 

Where can I buy around Chatswood?

Head to Woolies (there’s a Woolworths Metro at Chatswood Interchange) for everything you need to whip up some British classics (they even sell custard!)