Ploughman’s platter

Bart Beek | VOLUME 31, ISSUE 1

Ploughman’s lunch is a hearty English platter served cold at lunchtime and washed down with an ale or cider. While the meal traditionally includes some crusty bread, a chunk of cheddar, some pickles and seasonal fruit, you’ll also find it served with chutney, boiled eggs, and cold cuts of meat such as ham, and pork roast or pie.

I’ve added a few foods that taste delicious with a ploughman’s or on their own. Prepare everything in advance and keep it chilled in the fridge, ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

2 portions omelette

2 portions spiced roast pork belly

2 portions mushrooms Nicoise

2 portions asparagus and pumpkin jalousie

Small bowl spiced chutney

Small bowl soft goat’s cheese

100g aged cheddar

4 slices prosciutto

4 slices smoked ham off the bone

4 slices baguette

Sprigs of thyme, mint and parsley, to garnish

Serve the ploughman’s lunch on a large wooden platter. Place a bowl of spiced chutney and a bowl of soft goat’s cheese in the centre. Surround with the cheddar, slices of prosciutto and ham, and with two portions each of omelette, roast pork, mushrooms Nicoise, and asparagus and pumpkin jalousie. Finish with the baguette and fresh herbs.

A ‘jalousie’ is a combination of a strudel and a turnover. I love this savoury version that combines sweet pumpkin and asparagus. Brush the pastry with an egg yolk before baking for a glossy finish.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

½ small butternut pumpkin

30ml extra virgin olive oil

6 sage leaves

Salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and peeled

2 sheets butter shortcrust pastry

1 egg, yolk only

Pre-heat the oven to 175°C. Peel the pumpkin and cut into 5mm slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season well. Place the sage leaves onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and top with the pumpkin slices. Roast until golden and tender. Remove from the oven and cool.

Place the asparagus spears into salted boiling water for two minutes, then plunge into iced water. When cool, dry with kitchen paper.

Put a pastry sheet onto an oven tray. Lay the pumpkin slices in the middle and top with the asparagus spears. Fold the second pastry sheet in half lengthwise and make 45-degree cuts at 1cm intervals along the pastry’s fold. Open the sheet to reveal the jalousie pattern.

Brush the pastry around the pumpkin with the egg yolk and place the opened, cut pastry sheet over the top. Gently press down around the edges to close and trim away excess pastry. Brush with egg yolk and make a wavy pattern with a fork. Bake at 170°C until crisp and golden. Cool on a baking rack.


Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 4 minutes

Serves: 2

3 free-range eggs, 50g size

1 tblsp unsalted butter

2 tblsps caramelised onions, store bought

1⁄3 cup cheddar, grated

1 tblsp chives, chopped

Salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper

Heat a non-stick frypan and add the butter. Beat the eggs and pour into the pan. Use a scraper to gently move the egg around the pan until it is no longer runny. Add the caramelised onion, grated cheese, chives and seasoning. Quickly roll up before all the egg sets and hold it in this position to set. Cut into portions.

Spiced roast pork belly with fennel, bay leaf and garlic

This roast pork is equally delicious served hot or cold. The crackling keeps its crunch even when chilled, while the fresh fennel and fennel seeds enhance and complement the pork’s flavour.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves: 6

1.5kg pork belly, bones removed, skin on

1 tblsp salt flakes

1kg brown onions, peeled, sliced 1cm thick

½ head garlic

1 baby fennel, sliced lengthways

3 bay leaves

1 tblsp fennel seeds

1 tblsp coriander seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Place the pork belly onto a cutting board and thoroughly dry the skin with kitchen paper. Using a Stanley knife, make parallel, 6mm-deep cuts across the skin in 1cm intervals. Rub salt into the cuts.

Place the onion slices in an oven dish and top with the garlic, sliced fennel, bay leaves, fennel and coriander seeds.

Place the salted pork belly on top, skin side up and pour water down the side (keep the skin dry) to come halfway up the pork belly. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crisp. Decrease the temperature to 175°C and roast for a further hour. Top up the water throughout the cooking process.

Remove from the oven, cover with aluminium foil, and rest for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator.

Mushrooms Nicoise

This is an interesting, intense and delicious cold appetiser often served as a starter in many regions of France. It’s pronounced ‘ni-swaz’ and works perfectly in a ploughman’s lunch.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

1kg ripe tomatoes

30ml extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 golden shallots

½ cup dry white wine

15ml extra virgin olive oil

4 x 8cm flat mushrooms

4 sprigs lemon thyme

Salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper

1 tblsp tarragon, diced

8 pitted kalamata olives, halved

¼ cup pea sprouts

Cut out the tomato eyes with a paring knife and cut a small cross on the opposite side of the tomato. Bring a pot of water to the boil and plunge the tomatoes into it. Boil for 30 seconds, then plunge the tomatoes into ice water. When cool, remove the skins and halve the tomatoes. Remove the seeds and cut the tomato flesh into small dice.

Heat 30ml olive oil in a small saucepan. Cook the garlic for 20 seconds. Add the diced shallots and cook for several minutes, until soft. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, reduce the liquid until almost evaporated. Add the diced tomatoes, cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Season well.

Heat 15ml olive oil in a grill pan. Fry the mushrooms, gill side down, until lightly browned around the rim. Turn over, add the lemon thyme and seasoning. Cook until the mushrooms fill up with their own juices, then remove from the pan and cool.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, tarragon and olive halves. Spoon into the mushrooms, and top with the pea sprouts.