Way back in April, when the initial draw for the Olympic Food Challenge took place, a kindly soul* suggested that since I had drawn Great Britain I should cook a four course meal. The idea being that each course should represent one of the home nations. Of course I laughed off the idea as sounding like far too much work.
Tonight I have cooked a four course meal, one course for each of the home nations that make up The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland**.
Starter: Wales - Glamorgan Sausage
I suppose the obvious choice for a light Welsh starter would have been rarebit but I have always had a soft spot for Glamorgan sausages. For a long time they loitered as a poor vegetarian option on pub menus but I think they are due a come back. Caerphilly cheese, leek, breadcrumbs, parsley and thyme are mixed together with some beaten egg and formed into sausages. These are then coated in breadcrumbs and shallow fried. A very simple and very tasty starter.
Fish Course: Scotland - Smoked Salmon and Oatcakes
Anyone who knows me may well be surprised that I have not picked haggis as the Scottish part of the British meal. Well, haggis season starts today***, but even if I had managed to shoot a wee beastie this morning, it would still need to be hung for a couple of days before we could eat it.
The other thing synonymous with Scottish cuisine is smoked fish. From Arbroth Smokies to Cullen Skink, smoked fish gets everywhere. As we're eating four courses I decided to keep the fish course light and opted for smoked salmon with oatcakes.
Main Course: Ireland - Bacon Chops with Braised Cabbage
I did a fair amount of research for Ireland****. I wanted to do the kind of dish that turns up on family dinner tables not a cheffy reconstruction, so I was happy when I was told I had to make boiled bacon with cabbage and potatoes.
Those of you who have been following the Olympic Food Challenge may have felt a little queasy earlier this week when we cooked pigs trotters. We were certainly unsure about how they would turn out. In fact, we were so unsure that I had bought emergency bacon chops just in case we had to throw the meal in the bin. Surprisingly we ate the trotters and the chops ended up in the freezer.
Tonight they have been briefly pan fried, not boiled, and finished in the oven. The cabbage was then braised in the bacon pan to make sure they benefited from the bacony goodness that was left behind. Served with boiled new potatoes, this is not the most glamorous meal I have cooked in the last two weeks, but it is one of the best.
Dessert: England - Trifle
This was the first dish on the menu. I love trifle. Not the hundreds and thousands topped jelly-fest, but the sherry soaked, fresh fruit filled and almond topped grown up version. We would normally make a huge trifle but as we are going on Holiday tomorrow we decided to make these two dainty individual trifles.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. Nineteen dishes, nineteen countries, nineteen days and one challenge. The Olympic Food Challenge has opened my eyes to ingredients that I have never heard of before. I have braised more food in two weeks than I have previously. I have also met, and found a huge amount of admiration for, a group of food bloggers who have helped me cross the finishing line. Thanks for joining me over the last nineteen days. Thank you for cooking, for blogging and for reading. And thank you for your support.
*Yes Dan, you!
**I really am a sucker for a challenge!
***The Glorious 12th is not just for grouse.
****I asked J, the 29 year old receptionist at work, who happens to be of Irish decent.