My dear friend Sue Carter moved back to London last year to be closer to her family. We miss her dearly and wish we could watch some games with her and her lovely husband Leonard. In their absence, she sent this contribution. She is an excellent writer, fine cook, and wine expert, and you can follow her gastronomic adventures in her blog, Sue’s London.
“Some say England’s glory lies behind it – its Empire, the Industrial Revolution, athletes that once won at Wimbledon and its glorious football team that won the World Cup in 1966. To be English is to emerge from the womb knowing all this, and accepting that it will never be the same again. Well, here we are on the brink of hosting the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, and bidding to host the next-but-one World Cup in 2018 – and, despite the recent furor, it is strongly fancied as the front runner. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the brand? The recent defeat of Australia in the cricket World 20-20 might be an omen that England’s Lion is on the hunt again, hungry for victory.”
“Well, that remains to be seen – England is fortunate to have been drawn in a relatively well-matched group, and Capello is a wise manager so aspirations are strong. However, like a car showroom, the Premier League is stacked with foreign models and home-grown players are scarcer than hen’s teeth. This makes for exciting football during the season, but is not a good recipe for building a national team. That being said, there is a prodigious amount of talent on show and they should certainly get through to the quarter finals if not the semis and maybe beyond.”
“So, what to eat while we watch England games, with our hearts in our mouths? There are many traditional English dishes to choose from – the French call us the Rosbifs with good reason, as Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding is a revered national dish – and then there’s steak and kidney pie, spotted dick, trifle . . . we could go on. But for me, there’s nothing like a banger. English sausages are a thing of joy and not easy to replicate – it’s all to do with the ratio of ‘rusk’ filler with the pork, as well as the texture of the meat – so if you can’t get a decent banger, then try this recipe with country-style pork ribs as it’s just as good.”
“The beauty of the sausage dish is that it is prepped ahead of time and then oven cooked, so you can pull it out and serve it at half-time if you choose. Note: his dish is suited to England’s damp weather, so not recommended for serving outside in the heat.”
1lb of English Bangers
A scant T of cooking oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
4oz bacon lardons (or one slice of thick-cut pancetta sliced into matchsticks)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t finely chopped fresh thyme
1 US pint of hard cider (English, preferably!)
1 T all purpose flour
1 Braeburn apple – or Cox if you can get it – peeled, cored and sliced into thick rings
1 T butter
Preaheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 C. Heat oil in a medium casserole over moderate heat and brown the sausages all over. Take out and set aside. Add the onions and cook slowly so they do not burn. Add lardons and cook, stirring. When cooked through, sprinkle the flour and stir. Slowly add the cider, then add the sausages back to the pan along with the garlic, bayleaf, thyme and a good grinding of freshly milled pepper. As soon as the liquid begins to simmer, put the lid on and put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before it is ready, melt the butter over a medium heat and cook the apple slices gently.
When the apple slices are cooked through, use them to garnish the sausages. Serve with fluffy mashed potatoes and sautéed green cabbage.
“As the England v USA game is at 2.30pm Central Time on Saturday June 12, and this dish maybe too heavy for that time of day, you could always fall back on a traditional English Tea: cucumber sandwiches, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and cake. For the extravagant among you, Champagne is permitted as an alternative to tea. Be sure to use thin sliced bread (wheat or white) and trim the crusts, splash out on a European cucumber as it has fewer seeds than the local fruit, and peel it too before slicing thinly. A variety of sandwiches can be served: egg mayonnaise, ham, smoked salmon . . . but the key word is ‘dainty’ – no doorstops please! Plain scones – spread the jam first then add a hearty dollop of the cream (mascarpone can substitute for clotted if unavailable) if you want your high tea Devon-style, or vice versa for a Cornish Tea. Cake is up to you – but again, dainty is best though decadence is definitely allowed!”