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soederman

England's national dish: help me find the best recipe

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Hi all,

I am creating an app and a web service with recipes of all the national dishes in the world (one for every "country").

I have through thourough research of the web now a list of all national dishes! :D

For England my choice for the national dish is:

Roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding

So for you that are curious how I came to that conclusion:

Here's my take on the criteria for what should be a national dish (not all need to be fulfilled, but the more the better):
Must be a dish (not a bread or a dessert, or an ingredient, etc)
Typical for the country (both what the people themselves thinks but also what people in other countries thinks)
Daily favored food
Popular/High acceptance in most parts of the country
If possible, only found in that country/originating from that country
Forming part of the country's identity/culture
Represent a nation's heritage

Secondary if hard to choose between two equals:
Easy to cook for people around the world (replacable ingredients)
Shorter cooking time

I have also gathered 5-10 recipes for each dish but now comes the work of choosing the best recipe for each dish or creating a better one than can be found on the web.

Here are the recipes I have found:

Would love to get your input on which is the best recipe. Or if you have another recipe not among the above that you think is really great, then share it here. Also appreciate if you have suggestions on how to improve the recipe you would pick.

Or even better, cook the dish, write a short review and take a picture of it. That would be really awesome! :D

This thread is mainly about finding the best recipe for the national dish I have choosen. If you disagree with my choice of national dish, then of course you are welcome to tell which dish you would pick instead.

If you have general comments or questions regarding this that is not specifically for this country or dish then please write in this thread instead:

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/145477-gathering-the-best-recipes-of-national-dishes

Thank you in advance!


/Kalle Söderman

https://www.facebook.com/IngredientMatcher

Building the web service and the iPhone app IngredientMatcher which will enable you to show the recipes you can make out of the ingredients you have at home. The recipes we will start with is the national dish of every country in the world.

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What, it isn't Welsh rabbit?


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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That poor rabbit again, always getting put forward when people are looking for rarebit.

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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I always had it in my head as rabbit as a child though I saw it written rarebit. Saw it recently as a bar snack with the bread alongside to dip into the cheese mix. Nick do you enjoy it, make it, and have a favorite prep?

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I don't think the British eat much beef after mad cow. How about the perennial Fish and Chips (wrapped up in a copy of the Daily Mail), or a nice Chicken Tikka Masala instead?

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Sorry for hijacking thread. Traditional rarebit uses welsh cheese, beer, and mustard. Typical variations use Cheddar, ale or even stout, and add Worcestershire sauce. Others add milk or cream (not for me I'm afraid) and something to give some heat such as cayenne or hot sauce. It can be considered either a fancy toasted cheese sandwich or a fondue applied to toast.

On the original topic. The recipes all look pretty good. Important things are to choose a good cut (sirloin is good, as the old saying goes, "arise Sir Loin of beef"), brown before roasting (some miss this step; don't use those recipes), roast beef so it is rare (you can include use of a thermometer here to make sure, I'd take it to 55C in centre; it will rise slightly as it rests) and rest before carving (this is when the puddings are made). For the puddings, it is important to rest the batter, preheat muffin or pudding tin with dripping so it is close to smoking and then pour the batter into the hot tins before returning to oven to cook. As it is a rising baked good, don't open the oven to peek during the first twenty minutes.

As the previous poster said, it may have been the national dish before the BSE outbreak but many now view beef with suspicion.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Welsh rarebit is surprisingly hard to find eating out, at least in London. It's now pub food, and not every night or every pub. I grew up with a very rough approximation as home cooking through the Irish-American side of my family. It seems that those who could most easily be authentic also have the license to freely play fast and loose with recipes; perhaps that is authentic. As a child I also thought it was pronounced rabbit.

The recipe I know prefers double Gloucester cheese, but I always make do: Heat butter and flour, then milk and beer (a few tablespoons of each), to form a thick sauce. Add English mustard, black or cayenne pepper and salt. Then stir in finely grated cheese. Spoon onto hot buttered toast. Grill till brown and bubbling.

I've found this is a dish that doesn't respond well to an over-eager approach. Using the fanciest bread and cheese actually makes it come out worse. Welsh rarebit is comfort food, and it is what it is, best honored by recognizing its spirit rather than attempting to "fix" it.

To pick something more elaborate, go with pot pie. Steak and kidney was the classic, while beef was in favor. Tarts With Tops On by Tamasin Day-Lewis (the actor Daniel's sister) is a great book admittedly written to support one stellar recipe, chicken pot pie. Her version takes hours but it was the best thing I cooked all year, the first time we made it.

Welsh rarebit is nevertheless my favorite British dish, the only one I'll make in the wee hours of the morning.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Well, Welsh rarebit is by definition Welsh even though its spread even further than leeks.

The original request was for ENGLISH dishes.

Wales is not England. Separate language even.

Maybe it should be the signature dish for Great Britain?

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Welsh rarebit is by definition Welsh

Are you sure?

French toast isn't French or toast!

Choosing a representative dish for Great Britain (one of the islands of the United Kingdom with a wide range of diversity) would be even more divisive and pointless. The only likely contender is the aforementioned Chicken Tikka Masala

As to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding being the national dish of England. I doubt that was every really very meaningful. Even in Yorkshire.

It certainly fell out of favour long before mad cow disease. It probably was last seen slipping off the ratings around the First World War. But it's the sort of dish that is dragged out as the sad old cliché in airline magazines etc.

I don't mean it isn't good! I love it. But national dish? I don't think so.

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A reading of Wikipedia tells me there there is (or was) an English Rarebit & a Scottish Rarebit as well as the Welsh Rarebit.

Nobody seems to know the exact origin of these terms. The earliest published mentions seem to date from about 1725.

Thus, although I wouldn't put money on it there seems to have been a Welsh Welsh Rarebit.

I think the original poster is onto a losing wicket (to keep with Englishness of this thread) in trying to pin any country down to a single National dish.

Unless of course its Mom's apple pie.

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The earliest published mentions seem to date from about 1725.

The 1725 date is as cited by the Oxford English Dictionary specifically for "Welsh Rabbit"

It reads

"1725 J. Byrom Rem. (1854) I. i. 108, I did not eat of the cold beef, but of Welsh rabbit and stewed cheese."

"Rarebit" came a bit later.

"1785 Grose Dict. Vulgar T., Rabbit, a Welch rabbit, bread and cheese toasted, i.e. a Welch rare bit."

The Scotch rarebit is approximately the same time:

1747 H. Glasse Cookery ix. 97 To make a *Scotch-Rabbit. Toast a Piece of Bread‥, butter it, cut a Slice of Cheese,‥ toast it on both Sides, and lay it on the Bread.

The OED defines it as somewhat uncertainly as

"scotch rabbit, ? a ‘Welsh rabbit’"

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For England my choice for the national dish is:

Bear in mind that our country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England is not a country just one region of a country.


Edited by Harters (log)
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John Hartley

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The earliest published mentions seem to date from about 1725.

The 1725 date is as cited by the Oxford English Dictionary specifically for "Welsh Rabbit"

It reads

"1725 J. Byrom Rem. (1854) I. i. 108, I did not eat of the cold beef, but of Welsh rabbit and stewed cheese."

"Rarebit" came a bit later.

"1785 Grose Dict. Vulgar T., Rabbit, a Welch rabbit, bread and cheese toasted, i.e. a Welch rare bit."

The Scotch rarebit is approximately the same time:

1747 H. Glasse Cookery ix. 97 To make a *Scotch-Rabbit. Toast a Piece of Bread‥, butter it, cut a Slice of Cheese,‥ toast it on both Sides, and lay it on the Bread.

The OED defines it as somewhat uncertainly as

"scotch rabbit, ? a ‘Welsh rabbit’"

I can just imagine the Surgeon of Crowthorne working on that one.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Mrs. Beeton's book gives very similar ingredient lists and processes for both Scotch and Welsh rarebit:

TOASTED CHEESE, or SCOTCH RARE-BIT.

1651. INGREDIENTS.—A few slices of rich cheese, toast, mustard, and pepper.

[illustration: HOT-WATER CHEESE-DISH.]

Mode.—Cut some nice rich sound cheese into rather thin slices; melt it in a cheese-toaster on a hot plate, or over steam, and, when melted, add a small quantity of mixed mustard and a seasoning of pepper; stir the cheese until it is completely dissolved, then brown it before the fire, or with a salamander. Fill the bottom of the cheese-toaster with hot water, and serve with dry or buttered toasts, whichever may be preferred. Our engraving illustrates a cheese-toaster with hot-water reservoir: the cheese is melted in the upper tin, which is placed in another vessel of boiling water, so keeping the preparation beautifully hot. A small quantity of porter, or port wine, is sometimes mixed with the cheese; and, if it be not very rich, a few pieces of butter may be mixed with it to great advantage. Sometimes the melted cheese is spread on the toasts, and then laid in the cheese-dish at the top of the hot water. Whichever way it is served, it is highly necessary that the mixture be very hot, and very quickly sent to table, or it will be worthless.

Time.—About 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Average cost, 1-1/2d. per slice.

Sufficient.—Allow a slice to each person. Seasonable at any time.

TOASTED CHEESE, or WELSH RARE-BIT.

1652. INGREDIENTS.—Slices of bread, butter, Cheshire or Gloucester cheese, mustard, and pepper.

Mode.—Cut the bread into slices about 1/2 inch in thickness; pare off the crust, toast the bread slightly without hardening or burning it, and spread it with butter. Cut some slices, not quite so large as the bread, from a good rich fat cheese; lay them on the toasted bread in a cheese-toaster; be careful that the cheese does not burn, and let it be equally melted. Spread over the top a little made mustard and a seasoning of pepper, and serve very hot, with very hot plates. To facilitate the melting of the cheese, it may be cut into thin flakes or toasted on one side before it is laid on the bread. As it is so essential to send this dish hot to table, it is a good plan to melt the cheese in small round silver or metal pans, and to send these pans to table, allowing one for each guest. Slices of dry or buttered toast should always accompany them, with mustard, pepper, and salt.

Time.—About 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Average cost, 1-1/2d. each slice.

Sufficient.—Allow a slice to each person. Seasonable at any time.

Note.—Should the cheese be dry, a little butter mixed with it will be an improvement.

(Source, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10136/pg10136.html [this is in the public domain])


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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As to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding being the national dish of England. I doubt that was every really very meaningful. Even in Yorkshire.

I think the roast dinner (roasted-to-death meat, vegetables boiled until they just about dissolve into the cooking water, Yorkshire puddings and some thin prepared gravy) is still actually quite popular. Our family sat down to eat it once a week on a Sunday and I know many others around my area and I think all over the country also eat that meal regularly. There was a period of time where shops were popping up that would sell a roast dinner wrap - all the contents of a roast dinner wrapped up in a giant Yorkshire pud. That was quite bizarre.

Then again the OP is fighting a losing battle as mentioned further up the thread trying to define one meal as the "national dish".

I think either a well executed roast dinner, or fish and chips are probably the strongest contenders for a national dish of England though, not cheese on toast *cough* oh sorry, I mean "rarebit".

Just to throw a further spanner into the works, Spaghetti Bolognese is a very popular one over here. Seems like everybody's got their own recipe for it and claims it's the best...

ETA:

I don't think the British eat much beef after mad cow. How about the perennial Fish and Chips (wrapped up in a copy of the Daily Mail), or a nice Chicken Tikka Masala instead?

Mad cow certainly hasn't slowed down our beef consumption. There may have been a period of time after the incident where everyone is a bit paranoid, but that attitude (thankfully) hasn't persisted. Beef's one of the more popular meats here and is usually afforded about twice (sometimes even 3-4 times or more depending on the shop) as much shelf space as lamb or pork.

Edited by Michael Speleoto (log)
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As to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding being the national dish of England. I doubt that was every really very meaningful. Even in Yorkshire.

I think the roast dinner (roasted-to-death meat, vegetables boiled until they just about dissolve into the cooking water, Yorkshire puddings and some thin prepared gravy) is still actually quite popular. Our family sat down to eat it once a week on a Sunday and I know many others around my area and I think all over the country also eat that meal regularly. There was a period of time where shops were popping up that would sell a roast dinner wrap - all the contents of a roast dinner wrapped up in a giant Yorkshire pud. That was quite bizarre.

Then again the OP is fighting a losing battle as mentioned further up the thread trying to define one meal as the "national dish".

I think either a well executed roast dinner, or fish and chips are probably the strongest contenders for a national dish of England though, not cheese on toast *cough* oh sorry, I mean "rarebit".

Just to throw a further spanner into the works, Spaghetti Bolognese is a very popular one over here. Seems like everybody's got their own recipe for it and claims it's the best...

ETA:

>I don't think the British eat much beef after mad cow. How about the perennial Fish and Chips (wrapped up in a copy of the Daily Mail), or a nice Chicken Tikka Masala instead?

Mad cow certainly hasn't slowed down our beef consumption. There may have been a period of time after the incident where everyone is a bit paranoid, but that attitude (thankfully) hasn't persisted. Beef's one of the more popular meats here and is usually afforded about twice (sometimes even 3-4 times or more depending on the shop) as much shelf space as lamb or pork.

This was my experience when I lived in England, too. Mostly the mad cow thing, after the initial fear passed, just meant people were a little more interested in knowing where the beef had come from in terms of being handled properly, etc. Even that it was as much the supermarkets telling you about the beef as it was people bothering to research for themselves. I haven't been back in a few years, but beef always featured quite regularly on the menu in the various places I ate, and the stuff I cooked myself.

I'm not sure I'd pick a roast over fish and chips for the national meal - maybe if it's going to be the national meal that people prepare at home, since a lot of people I knew preferred to go to a chippy over dealing with hot oil and all that mess at home.

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Have to agree with many of Michael Speleoto's comments. I think the op's choice is pretty spot on, it is the ultimate English comfort food. Yes fish and chips and chicken tikka are very popular, yet these are takeaway foods that are infrequently prepared at home, compared to the roast or 'sunday lunch' that is a mainstay in many households. I suspect that the majority of the population still consume a roast as often as once a week. The Yorkshire puds might be bought in and chicken is probably consumed in greater quantity this probably has a lot to do with the differing costs. The BSE crisis is certainly a distant memory, not that I was actually aware of many individuals being completely scared off all beef at the time (though tbh I was at school at the time so playground bravado may have also played a part in this). As to rarebit, aside from it being welsh, its hardly a commonly found or eaten dish amongst the general populous. Cheese on toast maybe but that is neither a rarebit nor anything more than a snack, if the London gastropubs are trying to suggest otherwise I would guess that has a lot to do with their profit margins.

as to recipe it would depend on the ops aims. Whilst a on-the-bone rib of beef would be the dream joint but topside and silverside most common. The only consistent thing about a Yorkshire pud recipe tends to be the direction to preheat the pan. Personally I would insist that the recipe includes directions on making gravy using the pan juices and how to prepare the obligatory roast potatoes.

oh Harters I'm afraid I have to disagree and state that England is still a country.

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as to recipe it would depend on the ops aims. Whilst a on-the-bone rib of beef would be the dream joint but topside and silverside most common. The only consistent thing about a Yorkshire pud recipe tends to be the direction to preheat the pan. Personally I would insist that the recipe includes directions on making gravy using the pan juices and how to prepare the obligatory roast potatoes.

Roast potatoes could be a small novel in and of themselves. They should be quite simple and yet there are all kinds of instructions to get them to properly crisp up. But yes, required with a roast of beef, for sure. Chicken sometimes I'd do mash, but beef seems to call for roast potatoes.

I always made mine separate from the meat due to often cooking meals where a vegetarian would be present, but my general procedure was to peel and cut into sensibly sized chunks - I hate the ones that are half a large potato, I think the ratio of crispy exterior to soft interior is all wrong - and then parboil just until the edges started looking sort of translucent, maybe 5 minutes? Then drain and leave in a colander over the warm pot to really thoroughly dry off whilst doing other things. To roast, preheat a pan with decent amounts of heat retention (wimpy thin pans loose too much heat when you add the potatoes) and then add oil to the pan (just enough that when it's heated it will cover the bottom) and heat that. While the oil is heating, dump the potatoes back into the pot and cover and give it a good shake to fluff up the edges. Add to pan in the oven, and give a quick but careful stir to get the potatoes nicely coated in the hot oil. Roast until golden brown and crispy.

Pretty reliably produced nice crisp roast potatoes using that method. I think the key is the parboil and rest to free some lovely starchy potato to soak up the oil to make the crust, and temperature. It's kind of like frying something - if you have the temperature too low the potatoes just get greasy and soggy.

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