Nestling in the heart of England just North of Birmingham, the Shires have long been an inspiration for modern cookery. The 'Black Country' as it was once known (due to it's mining economy) comprised of a resourceful and inventive populace, whom created the sweetest of oatcakes and biscuits from the harvests of the land. Stoke, often referred to as the 'chimney city of Staffordshire' is historically renowned for it's potteries - the birthplace of Wedgewood and Royal Doulton. It is here too that a number of signature Staffordshire foods and dishes first came to prominence, since the city had some of the toughest working conditions and poorest areas of all Industrial powerhouses in the U.K. Much like it's Northern counterparts, Staffordshire cuisine is dominated by many a make-do and improvisational pie or stew variant, since beef was the most common and affordable product of livestock farming in the region. For fantastic holiday cottages in Staffordshire.
When you were paid a potter's pittance in the 19th Century, even Lobby counted as an ill-affordable luxury. Created from the leftover scraps of the traditional Sunday roast dinner (if you could extend your finances thus far), Lobby was essentially a boiled down stew, utilizing cattle or poultry bone to enhance the flavour. Since most families could only afford the offal and gristle cuts of meat on offer at the butchers, this formed the basis of the stew which on the odd occasion would also have been enhanced by a generous dash of ale. Those whom were fortunate enough to own a plot of land upon which they could cultivate a vegetable plot, had the added advantage of fresh organic potatoes and carrots thrown in to the pot, to 'fill out' the stew. The 50's generation revived Lobby using the choicest off-cuts of beef, coupled with pearl barley and Marmite to enhance the flavour - slow-cooking to perfection.
It was the staple of many a school lunch-box sandwich during the 60's and 70's, but are you aware that the tradition of Branston Pickle production is firmly rooted in Burton? The vital partner for a cheddar cheese sandwich, or experimental welsh rarebit, Branston Pickle is a fairly modern innovation - born in 1922. Consisting of cauliflower, carrots and swede, the savoury preserve was incepted using only locally grown produce - the flavour enhanced by a secret recipe, inclusive of tomatoes, vinegar and spices. It has survived to become one of the most popular English preserves in history.
Up there among the EU protected Jersey Royal Potatoes and Newcastle Brown Ale, Staffordshire Cheese now enjoys an unprecedented prestige as one of England's finest dairy variants. Cheese-making within Staffordshire dates back over 700 years, during a time when monks inhabited the moorlands of the North - notably Leek. Pale and creamy with a very mature flavour; the success of Staffordshire Cheese has been attributed to the lush moorlands upon which grazing cattle feed.
Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding
The Staffordshire Yeomanry were a division of the Queen's Own Regiment, existing from 1794 through to 1973 (before they were amalgamated with the Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry.) it is thought the Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding recipe was first developed during the height of the Boer War, when wives would bake for their returning husbands a luxurious welcome home spread, comprising of the best cakes and sweetmeats they could possibly afford. The Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding is to all intents and purposes an egg custard tart, with egg custard layered onto jam within a pastry casing and is still popular within the county's bakeries today.
Did you know Branston Pickle came from Staffordshire?