Monday, April 15, 2013

Eating for Comfort (2)

I'd always intended to write a second follow-up post to Eating for Comfort (1) but I've had so many people sharing their views and favourite foods that I'm doing it earlier than I'd initially planned.  Thank you to everyone who has shared their favourite comfort food recipes (especially Wadds - I hope this second post hits the spot!)  Comfort food has to do just that, comfort.  That means hearty dense food, usually with some form of carbs, high on flavour, foods that literally fill your mouth with bulk; foods that have connotations with childhood, forbidden foods and certainly foods that wouldn't necessarily be considered the 'healthy option'.

Now, this particular comfort food didn't make the first cut and I've no idea why as it's a staple in our house, in our family actually.  It's the dish that my kids always ask for and the food that my Mum invariably serves the first night we go back to visit.  It is of course  Mince and Dumplings! (fanfare please!)
When it comes to comfort eating, this dish is spot on; a rich, meaty filling, topped by crispy dumplings.  Now I know that suet isn't exactly diet food, but when it comes to eating for comfort that's totally the point isn't it?  Some people like their dumplings gooey and dense, but in our family we like them browned and crispy on the top, soft and doughy underneath.  Served with mashed potato to soak up the meaty juices, this really is king of the comfort food castle.

Ok.  Next on the hit list is another favourite of mine - altho' slightly contentious at the moment I do agree, but I can't bring myself to apologise for it -   I'm talking about Corned Beef Hash. 

Now I know it doesn't look great (but comfort food is all about the taste, not the look - yes?) and it ticks all the comfort boxes.  Salty corned beef combined with caramelised onions and buttery mashed potato.  I like to mix mine all together and put into a frying pan and leave until a crust has formed on the underneath.  Sometimes I flip a fried egg on top, or baked beans, or if I'm in a real hurry it's just a dollop of tomato ketchup and I'm done. 

Now us northerners have a habit of eating strange foods that other folk shun - I'm talking black pudding, tripe, pigs trotters, ears and cheeks, and this next cut of meat for some reason falls into this bracket - pork belly.  It's an undersung hero, I promise you.  People are put off by the level of fat, but what they don't realise is, that it's this very fat that makes this dish so delicious.  Cooked slowly pork belly is rich, indulgent and a party for the tastebuds.  We often have slabs of this meat, slow cooked, then the crackling crisped at the end as a Sunday dinner but I've recently discovered this way of cooking those thin slices of belly - on a bed of potatoes - and it is quite simply a culinary hug on a plate.
  I always rub the pork with Chinese Five Spice which gives it a real depth of flavour, almost aniseedy.  I place them on a bed of potatoes, white and sweet potatoes, doused in garlic oil.  Roast and eat greedily, straight from the tin.

This next dish is a British classic, but with a twist.  I know few sad people that aren't instantly cheered up by a serving of hot chips, salted and sprinkled with vinegar.  Fish and Chips is the go-to instant supper, lunch and anytime snack for most of us.  Not for me.  Sadly, the only fish I can go near are the ones zipping between my toes in the Med so when you guys hit the fish, I go for the battered pineapple ring.  Yes.  You heard right.  Hear me out.  The sweetness of the pineapple combined with the crispy savoury batter is a match made in heaven.  Add to that the soft potato chip and you're onto a winner.  Try it if you don't believe me.  I don't make this.  Only a fish shop will do (if it serves pineapple rings).

Next up are puds....hmmmn...sticky toffee, apple crumble, trifle, bread and butter pud...  What would make your hit list?


  1. Fray Bentos stake and kidney pie in a tin! This was a real treat which was hard to ruin. For obvious reasons I have not eaten one for 30y, and don't even know if they are now produced.

  2. Frey Bentos! Now that's up there with corned beef...actually, it beats corned beef hands down. A pie in a tin - takes comfort food to a whole new level.

  3. No the best condiment for corned beef hash has to be Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce or Henderson's Relish from Sheffield. A battered haggis from a fish and chip shop isn't bad either - you can get them in parts of the North East, Cumbria and Scotland, but unfortunately not in Yorkshire.

  4. Yes! Lea & Perrins is pretty good I agree. Never come across a battered haggis before, but I'll be looking out for one next time I'm up in Newcastle or Cumbria. Thanks for the tip-off!