The last two cookbooks we’ve reviewed have been pretty top-heavy with leafy greens. Kathryn Anible’s Leafy Greens cook book and Susan Sampson’s oeuvre in the same vein are both marvelous, informative and packed with the best ingredients and the best intentions. But let’s face it, sometimes you have to let your hair down a bit and cook something slightly less virtuous. There are times we want something fried to a golden perfection, smothered in gravy or crying out for adjectives like scrumptious, succulent, decadent, comforting, indulgent, simple, fun. Pub food that is best served with a basket of napkins and a bowl of wet nap and washed down with a pint or two, nosh that you want to serve at home when the gang comes over to watch a game or play a game.
Many of us have our favorite pubs that we flock to as much for the chicken wings as the camaraderie, but wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to make this kind of fare at home?
Great Pub Food –Make Home Your New Local is a new cookbook by Australian Rachael Lane that will allow you to do just that. Ms Lane “…splits her time between writing and travelling, often stopping by a comfy pub, and has cooked in a variety of settings, from English castles to Australian street festivals…” Her travels have resulted in a book that takes the guesswork out of recreating classics like Bangers and Mash, Steak Diane and Ploughman’s Lunch as well as revered pub fare like Cornish Pasties, Beef and Guinness Pie, Shepherd’s Pie or Fish and Chips.
You know what’s hot these days? Hand-held Australian meat pies. Boy, you see these things at the trendiest bistros and pubs in every neighbourhood. In this book Ms Lane shows you how to make these little beauties at home. Imagine serving a platter of Beef Burgundy Pie in flaky homemade pastry, or Steak and Mushroom Pies, Chicken and Tarragon or an aromatic Veggie Curry Pie?
For the sweet tooth, how about a Chocolate Stout Pudding made with butter, bitter chocolate and stout beer, served hot with cream or ice cream? Or a Bakewell Tart with a sweet shortcrust pastry and filling with made with lemons, almonds and raspberry?
The book features five sections: Burgers, Pies and Pastries, Classics, Specials Board (which features more complicated dishes like Rabbit Cacciatore, Osso Bocco and Prawn and Chorizo Paella), Salads and Sides and of course Desserts.
Whatever your favourite pub grub is, you are likely to find it in these pages. The recipes are straightforward, unfussy and uncomplicated, and are so irresistible you might have to invest in another large screen TV to accommodate the neighbours.
I picked this recipe to share because it is easy (would it be real pub food if it were overly complicated?) because it is delicious, and, well, when’s the last time you had Steak Diane?
4 seven-ounce fillet steaks
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ oz butter
4 shallots. Finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup 35% cream
1 small handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat a large frying pan over high heat. Drizzle the steals with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium, or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate, cover and set aside to rest while you prepare the sauce.
- Reduce the heat to low-medium and melt the butter in the pan. Cook the shallot and garlic until softened. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.
- Pour in the brandy and slightly tilt the pan to ignite the alcohol. Cook until it burns out.
- Add the cream and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until reduced slightly to make a sauce. Add the parsley and stir to combine. Pour over steaks and serve.