In a break from the regular series, countryphile James Waller-Davies tries his hand at some European recipes using ingredients which can be purchased here in Lincolnshire.
When I lived in Germany, I was once asked what the traditional English pre-meal greeting was, our version of ‘guten appetit’. A friend piped up with the wry retort of ‘good luck’.
Everyone laughed. It was a stereotype of British food from the past which still lingers. It is a stereotype that was, to be fair, a fairly accurate comment on post-war British cuisine that lasted right up to the end of the 70s.
But not anymore. British cookery, both domestic and professional, is now amongst the best and most diverse in the world. And the reason for this change? We became a country of culinary magpies, absorbing the waves of international food that came with people who came to live here.
Traditional British food is great, but the additions of curries, pastas, chillies, paellas, chow meins, pizzas and more have added a variety that most of the world cannot match. Us Brits are now good at food and the days of ‘good luck’ are long gone.
More recent migration has brought new dishes from Eastern Europe and whilst some of the flavours are new, many of the ingredients are very familiar to Lincolnshire. Pork sausage, potatoes and cabbage – could you get more Lincolnshire than that?
This Czech sauerkraut soup. This pickled cabbage adds deliciously fresh sour note to the richness of the sausage and cream. It makes a great lunch, but it’s also more than robust enough to make an economical mid-week dinner.
300g diced boiled potatoes
200g smoked sausage
3 rashers streaky bacon
1 chopped onion
1 tspn caraway seeds
3 allspice berries
3 bay leaves
3 tbsps plain flour
Squeeze out the vinegar from the sauerkraut and chop. Put in a heavy bottom pan with the bay leaves, allspice, a good twist of pepper and 500ml water. Bring
to a simmer.
Slice the sausage and bacon and fry off with the onion.
Add the flour, mixing well, and add the cream.
Bring to a simmer and then add to the sauerkraut and potatoes. Simmer all together for a further 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and balance acidity with a teaspoon of sugar, if needed.
Serve with soured cream and good crusty bread.