The Best of British Challenge* continues its jaunt around the UK and this month comes to a stop in the beautiful English county of Dorset. Now my sister lives in Dorset but I must admit that, aside from a traditional cream tea and a pretty decent portion of fish and chips, I have never noticed Dorset to have particular regional food specialities.
Luckily this month’s challenge host Karen from Lavender and Lovage stepped into the breach, detailing a whole host of traditional Dorset dishes for inspiration. A childish and rather puerile sense of humour meant I desperately wanted to make Piddle Bacon Cake or Dorset Knobs but sadly a search of the internet yielded recipes for neither. (Thankfully Google-ing Dorset Knobs did only generate articles on biscuits rather than anything more sinister.)
So instead I decided to go with the rather grand sounding Jugged Steak, a meal which conjures up images of medieval banquets and flagons of mead. Apparently, jugging is the process of long, slow cooking of meat or fish in a covered container such as a casserole or an earthenware jug. It’s one of those chuck it all in a pan, bung it in the oven and forget about it kind of dishes. A fact recognised by The Great British Kitchen who has this rather lovely anecdote to impart: “This traditional Dorset dish was often prepared to be eaten on days when the fair came to town as it is good-tempered enough to wait until the revellers came home.”
Unlike its slightly more famous cousin “jugged hare,” jugged steak isn’t thickened with blood for which I was thankful. Instead it is packed full of flavour from a hefty slug of port, some cloves, redcurrant jelly and some little sausage meat type dumplings which you chuck in towards the end of cooking. Just the thing after a heavy day of fair revelling.
I absolutely loved this stew. It creates the most delicious gravy and would be fabulous with some creamy mashed potato. I served mine with a side of Dorset Blue Vinney scones (OK, they didn’t exactly contain Blue Vinney but South African blue cheese in the spirit of). In hindsight, I wished I had put the scone mixture on top of the casserole in a kind of cobbler-esque affair. I reckon that would have made a good dish truly epic. Maybe if I get some time I’ll give that a whirl……
You can find the recipe I used for Jugged Steak on The Great British Kitchen website here.