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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Bacon Connoisseurs Week

This week is ‘Bacon Connoisseurs Week’ and that means its time to celebrate a real British favourite, the bacon sandwich. And celebrate we have, not a day has passed this week that there’s not been a chef cooking bacon on TV. The Sunday Brunch programme on channel 4 had a ‘Baconologist’ to enlighten the nation on facts about one of their favourite foods. According to a UK Food Network survey, bacon takes the top spot in Britain’s top 100 foods and the bacon sandwich remains popular when we’re eating out with 324 million being sold last year.

What can be said about a bacon sandwich that you don’t already know. We all have our own favourite way of cooking bacon, and we are quite particular about how we like it served, something I’ve learned this week from numerous tweets I’ve received.

Bacon on a roll with tomato ketchup or brown sauce say some. Bread, butter and bacon……nothing else required say others. When it’s served like that there’s something else that makes it special for me, the roll must be warm. Nothing worse than lovely hot bacon in a cold roll.

Of course favourites extend to the type of bacon we have in our sandwich or roll and you only have to peruse the shelves of the supermarkets to see that the bacon industry is a huge part of the British food market. Bacon is a £1.37 billion industry with consumers purchasing 226.9k tonnes per year. That’s a lot of rashers and a lot of pigs.

Bacon has had some bad press recently with a few health warnings being attached, but given the sales figures I suspect it will remain a firm favourite with British consumers. My view…..everything in moderation and always buy the best food you can afford.

What I have learned is that not all bacon is the same and I do like nice bacon. This week I was fortunate to sample some locally produced bacon from Allan and Susan Steele of The Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat Company. They run a small holding just south of Glasgow and rear two kinds of native rare breed pigs, the Gloucester Old Spot and the British Saddleback.

A happy and contented pig at Lochbyre

A happy and contented pig at Lochbyre



At lochbyre,the pigs spend their lives outdoors, free to roam, to grow and develop naturally and as a result Allan and Susan produce great flavoursome meat which they sell at the various farmers markets they attend in the Lanarkshire and Glasgow area.

Delicious looking streaky and back bacon from Lochbyres Gloucester Old Black spot pigs

Delicious looking streaky and back bacon from Lochbyres Gloucester Old Black spot pigs

It would be wrong to have Bacon Connoisseurs week and not have a bacon sandwich. I decided to do something different with the Lochbyre bacon as after all it was called ‘connoisseurs week’ and you can have a bacon roll any day of the week. This was special bacon and deserved to be treated as such.

I made a healthy bacon sandwich, meaning that as well as some very tasty bacon you also include some other really nutritious foods, making the sandwich a reasonably balanced meal.

A healthy bacon sandwich

A healthy bacon sandwich

For 2 sandwiches you need :-
6 Rashers of Lochbyre Gloucester Old Spot dry cure bacon.
2 thick slices of sourdough bread
2 thick slices of sourdough bread
Small tub of cream cheese
Handful of spinach leaves
2 tomatoes sliced
1 avocado sliced
I use a griddle to cook bacon but cook to your own preference. I also like to cook the tomato slices for a minute, just enough to warm them through.

Either lightly toast the bread or brush with oil and place on a hot griddle toasting for a minute on each side.

Spread the bread with cream cheese, top with spinach leaves, warmed tomatoes, sliced avocado and the bacon rashers.

Delicious and healthy

Delicious and healthy

The Gloucester Old Spot bacon I used for this recipe was supplied by Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat Company. Full details of the meats and others products available can be found at http://www.lochbyrerarebreedmeat.co.uk.

For details of farmers markets attended by Lochbyre go to http://www.lanarkshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk

Further information and facts on British Bacon from http://www.lovepork.co.uk

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British Pie Week and a new look for Acanthus Pies

It’s British Pie Week and that means it’s time to celebrate the country’s love affair with the humble pie. Meat pies have always been  popular with the British, hot, cold, small or large, there’s a pie to suit every taste. A pie can be a part of meal or a snack and  for me  you can’t beat the great old classic the  British pork pie or a savoury cold cutting pie.

uncut pork pie

Earlier this year I wrote about ‘Acanthus Handmade Pies’  award winning pies made by Perthshire based producer Robert Corrigan and one thing I have learned on my pie journey is that the proof is in the pie when it comes to fillings. There is nothing nicer than a handmade cold cutting pie made with good quality ingredients.

At that time  Acanthus pies were in the process of rebranding and now there’s a new identity, renamed as ‘Mr.Cs Handcrafted Award Winning Pies’.  The pies have fantastic new look,  colourful labelling and hand wrapped in waxed paper all perfectly reflecting  Robert’s strong Scottish roots.  

Mr.Cs new eye catching logo

Mr.Cs new eye catching logo

There are several award winning pies in  Mr.Cs Handcrafted range,  all made with quality meats from some of Scotland’s best small producers. Production started in 2010 and  2011 saw the first award, a gold at the British Pie Awards for the pork pancetta and leek pie. It was no surprise a year later when the Chicken and Ham won a bronze award at the 2012 Scotch Pie awards.

The delcious chicken and ham pie

The delicious chicken and ham pie

2013 has proved to be a fantastic year so far for Mr Cs pies. At the Scotch Pie Awards, The ‘Game Pie’  won a Diamond award and the McLean trophy for the best savoury in the 9 Diamond awards category.

There was a Gold award for the Scottish Breakfast pie, pork with streaky bacon, mushrooms, an organic egg with tomato juice added to the jelly, a deliciously different breakfast treat. This was also the pie that was used to launch last years Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.

The delicious 2013 Gold Award winning 'Scottish Breakfast Pie at the launch of last years Scottish Food Fortnight.

The delicious 2013 Gold Award winning ‘Scottish Breakfast Pie at the launch of last years Scottish Food Fortnight.

The aptly named ‘Piggie Black Pie‘, pork with Robert’s pancetta and leek mix layered with  black pudding on the top and bottom layers won a bronze award.

The delightfully named award winning 'Piggy Black Pie'

The delightfully named award winning ‘Piggy Black Pie’

A more recent addition is the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties pie, seen here with Hardeep Singh Kohl, launching this years Scotland food and drink excellence awards.

Well known tv presenter and comic,Hardeep Singh Khol launches the 2013 Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards with Mr.Cs haggis neeps and tatties pie.Photograph by Rob McDougall & Taste Communications.

Well known tv presenter and comic,Hardeep Singh Khol launches the 2013 Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards with Mr.Cs haggis neeps and tatties pie.
Photograph by Rob McDougall & Taste Communications.

Ingredients for the range of Mr.Cs pies are sourced with quality in mind, Shipton Mill organic  flour for pastry, Scottish outdoor bred pork from Ramsays of Carluke and wild venison from Highland Game.

Robert also produces  a range of bespoke Pies for some of Scotland’s high end deli’s, food and farm shops. Crombies in Edinburgh stock the chicken and ham pie along with the traditional pork pie.

Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat from Lanarkshire have pork and savoury pork pies made with their rare breed pork and these are available at the weekly Lanarkshire Farmers Markets.

For those of us who shop for quality food products on line, Peelham Farm  (www.peelham.co.uk) stock  a ruby veal and ham pie with wholegrain mustard and a wonderful mutton and capers Pie, all made to the same exacting standard with meats produced on their own farm.

The individual pies are normally 500g, although the six fillings are also available in French style moulds in 1.75kg and 1.85kg. The larger sizes are ideal for parties and buffets and are also popular at game shoots.

pie stand

Mr.Cs is recognised as one of the best when it come to handcrafted cold cutting pies. There’s no point in comparing the pies to any of the mass produced supermarket pies,no matter how handmade they attempt to make them look. Mr.Cs  pies are in  a class of their own, handmade with good quality local ingredients with care and commitment through every stage. The finished product as you can see from the pictures look outstanding.

Robert and his apprenticie Ollie proudly showing off their awards at the 2013 Scotch Pie Awards.

Robert and his apprenticie Ollie proudly showing off their awards at the 2013 Scotch Pie Awards.

 

Stockists

Lochbyre Rare Breed Meat Company. http://www.lochbyrerarebreedmeat.co.uk  and Lanarkshire Farmers Markets.

Donald Russell of Inverurie  www.donaldrussel.com

Crombies of Edinburgh http://www.sausages.co.uk

Hopetoun Farm Shop http://www.hopetoun.co.uk

Cornerstone Deli in Blairgowrie 

The Wee Pie Company in Glencarse .www.theweepiecompany.co.uk

Peelham Farm ( on line and at Farmers Markets) http://www.peelham.co.uk

Loch Leven Larder http://www.lochlevenslarder.com

Gloaggburn Farm Shop http://www.gloagburnfarmshop.co.uk

For further information on British Pie Week, recipes and tips on making pies  see http://www.jusrol.co.uk

 

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