Cheshire Traditional Foods

blueberry cheese supper

Bounded by some of the most prolific counties in England for traditional fayre, Cheshire's historic gastronomy has been shaped greatly by external influence - yet there are still a plenitude of native dishes, for which Cheshire can be recognised. Well known as a historic mining centre for sodium (salt), Cheshire enjoyed cured/ salted meats and fish, as a staple base for many recipes.

'Pyes' and Peas
Dairy production was, and continues to be a consistent industry (owing to the richness of soils upon the River Mersey's shores), influencing many of the traditional desserts still found upon menus today. As a predominantly rural county, Cheshire still upholds many of it's old food customs and quirks - including the Cheshire Pork 'Pye', a flavourful alternative to those we are familiar with, since the filling consists of prime pork loin, white wine, pepper, nutmeg and sugar. The Cheshire Pork 'Pye' is alleged to have been borne from a Roman favourite known as 'cust'. Cust refers to a treated meat within an oil and paste casing, that would then be cooked to slowly to retain the moisture of the meat. Cheshire 'Pye' is traditionally encased within shortcrust pastry and served with garden peas - a cheap, yet hearty meal.

Cheshire Cheese
The production of Cheshire Cheese (quite rightly labeled the oldest and saltiest in England) pre-dates the rule of William the Conqueror, despite it's earliest recorded mention being within the Domesday Book of 1086. It is thought the Romans first began producing cheese in and around the salt marsh hot spots of the county; the curd from grazing cows benefiting from the naturally rich deposits found within these areas. Aesthetically, Cheshire Cheese is of a pale hue, while the taste can be described as dry, nutty, intense and salty due to the 8-week maturing process.

Chester Pudding
A relatively simple steamed suet pudding; the original Chester Pudding was a relatively simple recipe that pre-dates the 'meringue' version by around two hundred years. Made with breadcrumbs, suet and blackberry jam, Chester Pudding was a staple in diets of the region's inhabitants, mainly because it was cheap and filling. The Victorian variant is more akin to a meringue-topped tart, produced with a shortcrust pastry base, and a centre filling of ground almonds, sugar, butter and egg. The pudding would then be glazed with milk to influence a golden-brown topping.

Soups and Stews
Of the less eaten, 'hot pots' from Cheshire, the Cheshire Rabbit Brawn is still one that intrigues modern 'foodies', mainly because the rabbit was actually cooked whole, prior to being de-boned and cooked within the stew. Pigs trotters would also have to be boiled off for around ninety minutes, prior to being added. The 'Brawn' was a relatively simple recipe, created from both rabbit meat and pigs trotters, along with allspice for flavouring. The meat stew would traditionally have been eaten with home-grown potatoes, and whichever vegetables were wildly or domestically available during winter months.

Cheshire Soup is rather unlike the broths associated with other counties, as it was primarily an impoverished person's meal.  Vegetables, meat offal, tripe and oatmeal would form the base for a stew-like soup, which would then be reheated with plenty of cheese curdled into the mixture. The addition of cheese was primarily to fatten out the soup, thus making it wholesome and filling. Prior to the meat-curing and salting methods developed during the  late 18th Century, it was commonplace within English cooking for meat to be disguised heavily with herbs and spices in order to detract from it's spoiled taste. This is a plausible explanation for the addition of cheese, as many rural families within Cheshire were quite poor.

For holiday accommodation in Cheshire.

AT 11:15


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