There was a time, not so long ago, when lunch just wasn’t lunch if there wasn’t a Ploughman’s on the menu!
This traditional cold offering of bread, cheese, and pickles may not be seen very often these days... but that looks set to change with all the signs pointing towards a Ploughman’s resurgence.
The Ploughman’s first became a ‘classic’ after a PR push in the late 1950s/1960s by the Milk Marketing Board, as a way of getting people to eat more cheese.
It eventually fell out of favour somewhat, but with the current rise of sharing platters and relaxed eating, a comeback could be inevitable, particularly since the dish’s most popular accompaniment (beer) is also enjoying a new widespread popularity thanks to the craft brewing boom.
So, how can we all jump on the Ploughman’s bandwagon this summer, without feeling too much like we’re lunching in a bygone era?
The key to the evolution of the Ploughman’s Lunch lies not only stepping up the quality of the component ingredients, but also in bringing that little bit extra to the table in line with our more eclectic modern palates.
So what do you need to get started?
First off, a large wooden board, a selection of butter knives, and these key ingredients: Cheese, bread, soft butter, pickle, watercress, hard boiled eggs, celery and apple.
You can add other ingredients, such as ham, but traditionalists often question the necessity addition. The key is that all the items should be ready sliced, making the eating process so simple that it requires no more cutlery than one small knife per person. This, many say, is a big part of the joy of a Ploughman's.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to spend a lot on gourmet ingredients, but instead try and keep each component as simple and one dimensional as possible, since it is the contrast of the simplest of flavours which amounts to this dish’s well know vibrancy. The creamy indulgence of cheese, coupled with the palate-cleansing freshness of apple, and the tanginess of the pickled dimension, is undeniably what the Ploughman’s is all about.
There is some debate as to how many cheeses the board should feature, since the UK has around 700 to choose from, but the overriding opinion is that cheddar is a non negotiable.
Cheddar is the UK's favourite cheese, accounting for 55% of household purchases. A quality cheddar can be making of this dish, so we opted for Lye Cross Farm cheddar in our spread, which is produced by the Alvis family in the tranquil Somerset Vale of Warington.
There is a strong sense of tradition within the family, and therefore the company, with a focus on sustainable methods that do not damage the environment. Lye Cross Farm also source other carefully selected quality cheeses, including Stilton, Red Leicester and Wensleydale.
Fore more information visit their website https://www.lyecrossfarm.co.uk
Sponsored by Lye Cross Farm