Ploughman’s Lunch

It’s FINALLY here…the season premiere of Downton Abbey!  It seems like eons since the last season ended, and while the Southern husband awaits the Super Bowl and the Southern daughter exults in the glory of Clemson winning the Orange Bowl, I am all about tonight’s episode of Downton Abbey.  And so in honor of this day I have been waiting for for months and months, here is a totally inauthentic but heartfelt version of a British favorite….ploughman’s lunch!

According to my copious research, ploughman’s lunch is a traditional English cold meal that includes cheese, bread and beer, and often also features cold meat, pickle and hardboiled egg.  Other items I’ve run across as I dug deeper were chutney, sausage, apples and pickled onions.  I have no idea which combo of these various things make up the authentic version, but since I had a number of them actually in my house at the time that I made this, I decided to go for the New Jersey version of the ploughman’s lunch.  Here goes!

A hunk of country bread.  That seems to be consistent across all descriptions, and I had just made my favorite almost-no-knead bread that day, so all set there.

2. A few slices of sharp cheddar.  Obviously this is supposed to be English cheddar, but I always, always have a chunk of Vermont Cabot cheddar in my fridge.  Yum.

3. Apple slices.  Self-explanatory.

4. Pickles.  Now, I saw everything from actual pickles to chutney to pickled onions in the various descriptions of ploughman’s lunch, so I’m thinking that pickle up there covers the general pickle/pickled/chutney category.  Plus I love making refrigerator pickles, so I had about 50 of them on hand.

5. Which brings me to the final essential item for a ploughman’s lunch.  Beer.

I know.  I know.  But it was either this or the Southern husband’s stash of Landshark.  Go ahead, all you sticklers for authenticity, let me have it.  I know I seriously crossed the line with this one.

So there you have it, my somewhat off-kilter but heartfelt culinary ode to tonight’s Downton Abbey.  And one of the tastiest, easiest lunches I know.

Ploughman’s Lunch
  • Sliced ham or other cold cooked meat
  • Sliced cheddar or other firm cheese
  • Apple wedges or other seasonal fruit
  • Pickle wedges
  • Slices or wedges of country style bread
  • Beer!
  1. Place equal amounts of each of the above ingredients on a plate. Serve with beer. (How easy was THAT?)


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  1. Rachel says

    You are nearly there, but the dill or refrigerator pickle is wrong. French bread is the most usual to have, but hunks of doorstep granary also good. An old style pub would probably serve Branston pickle and/or piccalilli, or pickled onions or pickled beets, called beetroot over here, and a new style gastro pub would probably make their own chutney. Curried fruit (apple)chutney is nice. The piccalilli goes well with the ham! The apple isn’t working for me, would be better in the chutney.

    What season of Downton are you on? We had the Christmas special on the 25th.

    • Kate says

      We’re getting the first episode of Season 4 tonight! I’m going to have to figure out what Branston pickle is. :)

      • Catherine says

        Branston pickle is ubiquitous here. :lots of little pieces of chopped vegetables, in a brown sauce. I like it in a cheddar cheese sandwich. It comes in a jar, with bigger chunks or in a squeezy bottle. And why are you drinking a Mexican beer while watching Downton? A nice ale would be better!

        Do you watch Call the Midwife?

  2. says

    Our Ethnic Eating group of eight. ( one is not attending) is dining tonight and staying for the program. Menu: English cheeses and crackers, (tba)appetizer, pea soup, Shepherds pie and veggie version of same, trifle and another English dessert.
    Enjoy the evening…I know we will.

  3. Emily H. says

    I am going to have to disagree with the Corona. Not because it is not authentic enough (who the heck cares when you’ve got good tasting grub in front of you and the right intentions!) but because I have a hate-hate relationship with Corona. Otherwise, looks super tasty! I too am so excited about the premier, its been far, far too long since those lovely accents have taken over my life!

  4. Keith says

    Hi Kate,

    Stella Artois…Corona has a lot to learn…but then again, what’s a Downtown Abbey???? lol The lunch looks delicious and takes me back to my days on the Continent as a boy….tomorrows menu

  5. Rachel says

    How about tea and scones for afters, as the English say.

    I have seen the whole latest series of Downton, and it is mightily different from the first one especially. Note Lady Mary’s zombie like acting.

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