From Toad in the Hole to pies that aren’t really pies, British cuisine is full of hearty comfort food. Especially in the chilly winters, this type of food is ideal for keeping the cold at bay.
A Ploughman’s Lunch is one of the best British meals out there. It’s a cold lunch made up of a variety of meats, cheese, and bread.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips are probably the most iconic of all British dishes. A fillet of cod or haddock is dipped in batter and deep fried along with potatoes cut into thick slices (chips). A serving of mushy peas—dry, rehydrated and mashed peas—rounds out the meal. Salt and malt vinegar are the traditional condiments, but you can also get tartar sauce or even tomato ketchup.
The precise origins of fish and chips are unknown, but it is generally believed that fried fish first came to England with Jewish immigrants from Europe, while fried potatoes were developed in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The first fish and chip shop was opened by Joseph Malin in East London in the 1860s.
The best chippy uses a special process to make its chips—first, they are blanched and then double fried. This reduces the amount of moisture and makes the chips much crispier. It’s worth going out of your way to find a good fish and chip shop—and ask for extra vinegar! Other British favourites include sausage and mash—a hearty dish of creamy mashed potato topped with thick pork sausages (known as bangers in the UK) and onion gravy, and jellied eels.
Shepherd’s pie is a hearty casserole of meat, gravy, veggies and mashed potatoes. It’s a dish that is a staple of British cuisine, especially in the rural areas. It was traditionally made using lamb, but now it’s more common to use beef (making it technically cottage pie).
The bottom layer of meat and veggies is cooked in a rich gravy then covered with a thick layer of mashed potatoes and baked. It’s the ultimate comfort food that is easy to make and tastes delicious!
This recipe is super simple and comes together in less than an hour. The best part is that it’s perfect for making ahead and reheating. It’s also a great meal to make for guests or family members when they come over. Simply reheat in the oven until piping hot and you’re good to go! For the best texture, I suggest using a starchy potato like russet or Yukon gold. It will be fluffy and creamy when mashed! Also, don’t skip the soffrito step – it really gives this recipe so much flavor.
This British delicacy combines hard-boiled eggs encased in breakfast sausage and breadcrumbs, resulting in a savory, crunchy snack. It appears hefty, but it’s actually very light on the palate, making it the ideal high-protein snack or on-the-go picnic food.
You can buy Scotch eggs at many grocery stores, but they are also easy to make yourself at home. They require a few ingredients, including flour, eggs, and seasoned pork sausage (we prefer to use minced meat for extra flavor). Prepare the eggs by boiling them (four minutes for a runny yolk and seven for a well-done center) and then cooling them in an ice bath. Prepare the sausage by mixing it with chives, parsley, English mustard, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
There’s a lot of debate over where and how Scotch eggs were invented, but one thing is for sure—they’re not from Scotland. Some believe they were created in Yorkshire, while others claim that the dish is a spin-off of an Indian dish called nargisi kofta. Whatever the true origin, it’s safe to say that the Scotch egg is a popular and delicious part of British culture.
Cottage pie is a hearty casserole of meat and veggies baked under a layer of cheesy mashed potatoes. It is a classic cozy favorite that is easy to make ahead and reheats well. This recipe is vegetarian friendly with the addition of a little extra vegetables or a cup of cooked barley, farro or wild rice. It also works well with a gluten-free flour substitute such as cornstarch or an all-purpose baking mix in place of the flour used to thicken the gravy.
Traditionally a half cup of red wine is cooked with the beef to add some additional flavor. But it is not required.
You can easily make this ahead of time and freeze it (once it is assembled, wrapped and completely cooled). It will hold up perfectly if frozen until ready to bake. Just be sure to thaw it thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight before you bake it. It is also great to make for someone who needs a warm meal delivered! It makes a wonderful take-and-bake for someone who just had a baby, or to give to an office colleague who is sick.
Irish stew is a hearty dish consisting of tender meat, vegetables, and potatoes cooked in a beef gravy. The most common ingredients are mutton and onions, although carrots are also used in some recipes. Young lamb is sometimes used instead of mutton for a more delicate flavor. The gravy is usually seasoned with rosemary and fresh thyme.
The stew is traditionally served with a slice of bread on the side. It is a perfect dish to serve on cold nights, especially during St. Patrick’s Day.
To make this recipe even better, try using Guinness beer in place of the water for a deeper, richer flavor. Adding the beer also adds a subtle roasted malty sweetness to the stew.
It is important to pat the meat dry before cooking it. This helps it to cook more quickly and evenly. Also, don’t skip the step of browning the meat. This releases a ton of flavor into the sauce and will give the stew a much better overall taste. Finally, don’t forget to season with salt. This is something that can be easily overlooked, especially if you’re using a store-bought broth, so it’s worth taking the time to do it properly.