Without likely being aware of it, most Americans consume a version of what the British refer to as a "Ploughman's Lunch" on a regular basis. This classic meal is essentially a deconstructed sandwich, consisting of meats, cheeses, a hunk of rustic bread, fruit, greens, pickles, and a condiment, like mustard. Washed down with an ale or a glass of wine, it is almost like an adult lunchbox meal.
Here are three different variations to consider the next time you want a filling yet quick and easy snack. But first, let's break down the required components for a traditional British Ploughman's Lunch.
- Cheese: A chunk of Cheddar or maybe a piece of Stilton, a type of blue cheese that pairs especially well with fruit.
- Bread: Think artisan breads. This is not the time for sliced white bread.
- Fruit: A tart green apple, cherries, or red grapes are good options.
- Pickles: A garlic dill pickle or bread and butter pickles are necessary for that extra tanginess.
- Meat: Choose quality deli meats like pastrami (from an outlet such as City Foods Inc/Bea's Best), corned beef, roast beef, or smoked turkey or ham.
- Condiments: A spicy mustard, horseradish, or even a fruit chutney work well.
Now for the different variations you can make!
Classic American Delicatessen
Pair peppery pastrami with fresh Jewish rye bread topped with caraway seeds. Choose Pepper jack, Swiss, or Provolone cheese for the best compatibility. Slice raw Vidalia onion and a Granny Smith apple. Serve with sweet pickles and coarse-ground mustard. A hard-boiled egg would also go well.
Start with a creamy wedge of brie cheese, which will go well with smoked ham. A crusty loaf of French baguette is the perfect bread to slather with the brie, but nut breads are nice as well. Add cornichons, a tiny pickle no bigger than an inch or two. Make a small salad of mesclun, assorted mixed greens and herbs, and dress with a Dijon vinaigrette. Round it out with a nice D'Anjou pear.
Prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham, and assorted salamis are called for here. Add a young pecorino cheese, an Italian cheese made from sheep's milk. A young one is mild and suitable for eating. Add pepperoncini and briny olives. Sweet cantaloupe is the ideal fruit to pair with prosciutto. Choose a ciabatta roll or hearty focaccia bread and an herbed butter spread for the condiment.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Now that you know the primary building blocks, you can create your own favorite combinations.