Americans love These British Foods

Big Ben, London

Here are some favorite British foods and sauces that Americans love. I have personally tested these with my American relatives and friends. There are certain items that are loved by all and some that are loved by enough people that they are worth adding to the list.

Some of the items are somewhat expensive, because they have to be imported. Some of the items can be bought in large grocery stores where you will regularly find them on special offer cheaper than you can buy them online.

After 20 years, I can find many goods in the store that are an acceptable substitute for UK foods, such as “ShowBoat” baked beans. These beans are cheap and are a good substitute for Heinz baked beans. Other items are specific to the UK. There is no US substitute for HP sauce, OXO cubes or Bisto. There is no substitute for parsley sauce either, this is a big hit with my US family.

 

Popular 

Bisto Gravy Powder. Mix water with the powder as instructed on the packet. Crumble an OXO cube, or 2, depending on the amount of gravy you are making. Simmer in a pan while stirring continuously until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat and serve. If you are cooking meat or chicken, you can add a little of the meat dripping to the gravy mix.

OXO Cubes. These are easy crumble stock cubes that come in a variety of flavors such as beef, chicken, vegetarian. I normally use the beef stock cubes for every type of meal. They can be crumbled into the Bisto gravy mix, or used as an additive to a meat preparation. I always add 2 cubes to 1lbs of ground beef and 3 cubes to 2lbs of ground beef when preparing Shepherd’s Pie. 

HP Sauce. This type of sauce is called brown sauce in the UK and it goes well with most pork and beef dishes. It is also good for breakfast with bacon and sausages. It is vaguely similar to A1 steak sauce. If you like A1 you will like HP sauce.

Parsley Sauce. This is a savory cream sauce seasoned with parsley. It is probably the most popular sauce in my circle of family and friends. It has even been given the thumbs up from a Columbian friend. I don’t make it from scratch, I buy Colemans Parsley Sauce mix. You mix it with milk, heat the mix and serve with ham or fish dishes.

Kerrygold Irish Butter. Very popular and it can be found in large grocery stores. It is expensive, and I only buy it when it is on special offer. The specials sometimes bring the price down to the cheapest of domestic butters.

Irish Sausages. Irish sausages are normally made with ground pork, though they are sometimes made with a ground pork and beef mixture. They normally include raw eggs and breadcrumbs. My favorite sausage for breakfast or sausage and mash meals. The drawback is that if you buy them online, they are expensive and I have only found them to be available in stores in places such as New York. An acceptable substitute that I use is to buy the basic breakfast sausage, but they are still a little spicy.

Some Like It, Some Hate It

Branston Pickle.  A sweet, spicy chutney, containing chunks of vegetables in a thick brown sauce.  It is commonly served as part of a ploughman’s lunch, which is basically crusty bread, butter and chunks of cheese. I like it, but I have found that its popularity is a 50/50 split with American born people. It is an acquired taste I think.

English Mustard. This is a very strong yellow mustard which is vaguely similar to the yellow Chinese mustard found in restaurants. Many people find it too hot. I like it and normally spread it on ham sandwiches to give them a bit of a kick. I tend to buy the powdered mustard because it seems stronger and I can mix a small amount when I need it. The powder lasts longer than the ready mixed variety.

Beans On Toast. I still can’t persuade many American born people that this is a wonderful snack, most people won’t even try it. They associate baked beans with BBQ.

 

Favorite Meals and Snacks

  • Ham, boiled potatoes, peas with Parsley sauce.
  • Shepard’s Pie.
  • Sausage and mashed potato, with Bisto and OXO gravy.
  • Bacon, fried eggs, sausage, fried tomato, baked beans in tomato sauce, all accompanied by HP sauce.
  • Ground beef prepared with OXO cubes,  with boiled or mashed potatoes.
  • Fresh Cod with boiled potatoes and parsley sauce, (no batter on the fish).
  • Roast chicken dinner, with roasted potatoes, roasted zucchini, peas, cauliflower and a Bisto and OXO gravy.
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese with Branston Pickle.
  • Ham sandwich with Branston Pickle.
  • Cheese sandwich with Branston Pickle.
  • Ham sandwich with English Mustard.

 

Naturally, I like fish (Cod) and chips (fries) but I haven’t managed to make it to the UK Fish and Chip Shop standard yet and I can’t get the required standard in restaurants here, they use too much batter, the batter is not crispy enough and they usually don’t use Cod. The chips are not the same either. The chip shop must fry their chips in the same oil as the fish, maybe that’s the difference.

 

I get most of my items online from Goodwoods British Market. I don’t know if they are the cheapest, but they are reliable and the expiry date on the foods are good. I buy some of the items, such as Kerrygold butter in the grocery store when it is on special offer.

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British Meal Recipes

british-food-pic.jpg

Europeans joke about British food constantly, calling it unimaginative, plain and uninspired among other things. I was born, raised and I have still spent a lot of my life in the U.K. I have been living in the U.S.A. for 20 years now, but I still like to prepare British meals regularly.

The recipies are not meant to be healthy options, they are (or were, when I lived there) common meals and snacks in the U.K. I often get asked  about what the British eat and I am frequently asked for recipes, so I thought that I would post about the topic. Here are a few of my favorites:-

 

Beans On Toast

baked beans and toast

A favorite snack, I have not known any American born person to try this snack, they seem to find the ingredients unappetizing, in the same way that I find the idea of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches unappealing. I still have not tried PBJ.

For beans on toast for one person, you wil need:

  • 1 8oz can of beans in tomato sauce (NOT BBQ beans).
  • 2 slices of bread.
  • Real butter for the bread.
  • Pepper if desired,
  • Heat the beans in a pan and toast the bread.
  • When the bread is fully toasted, liberally butter the toast.
  • Pour the hot beans over both slices of toast and add pepper if desired.

Eat with a knife and fork, taking beans and toast into the mouth at the same time.

The choice of beans are crucial to the recipie. Heinz beans in tomato sauce is generally used in the U.K. They can be found in the U.S.A., but they are very expensive. The best alternative is Showboat Pork and beans in tomato sauce made by Bush Brothers & Company, these beans are widely available, very nicely priced and they are about 99.9% comparable to Heinz in taste.

Beans on toast can be a snack or a quick meal. I think that Americans dislike the idea of this recipe because when they think of beans, they think of the BBQ beans variety, which I doubt would go very well with buttered toast.

Real butter is a requirement for the recipie, margarine will not produce the correct flavor. The butter must be spread onto the hot toast liberally.

 

Shepherd’s Pie

food healthy dinner lunch

A family favorite.

Technically, what I am about to describe is called Cottage Pie as it is made with beef and not lamb but it is served in Irish themed bars in the U.S.A. as Shepherd’s Pie and I have always known this recipe as Sheherd’s Pie.

For 3-4 people, you will need:

  • 1 LB of lean ground beef, 90% lean if possible,
  • About 8 large potatoes,
  • 2 medium size onions,
  • A handful of sliced carrots, fresh or frozen,
  • Half a pound of frozen peas,
  • 2 beef Oxo cubes (more on this later),
  • A small handful of sea salt.
  • 2 knobs of real butter
  • Full fat milk.

First I will explain the Oxo cubes. These are beef stock cubes that crumble very easily, the beef flavor is absorbed into the meat very well. I have not found a suitable substitute for Oxo cubes in the U.S.A. If you don’t use Oxo, the Shepherd’s pie won’t taste right. Oxo can be bought online form British food suppliers at a reasonable cost. I would suggest buying two boxes of 24 cubes minimum on each online purchase to save on shipping.

Place the ground beef into a pot, add water, and crumble 2 Oxo cubes and add the salt.

Chop the onions and add them to the pot.

Add the peas and carrots

Place on the cooker to boil

There is no maximum time limit for boiling the ground beef, let it boil, then simmer while the potatoes are cooking.

Peel, boil and mash the potatoes, add a small amount of salt to the water when boiling. Add butter and milk when mashing, to make a smooth creamy mash.

Drain the ground beef and place into a baking dish. Spread the meat evenly within the dish.

Spread the mashed potato evenly on top of the ground beef.. Create swirl patterns on top of the ptoato with a fork.

Place into the oven on 425 for about 30 minutes, or until the peaks created by the swirling turn brown and crisp.

Serve and enjoy.

 

Ham Steak, Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce.

grilled ham

This is a quick and easy meal, the ham steak, one per person, can be lightly sauteed in the frying pan using a small amount of coconut oil.

Potatoes can be boiled or mashed.

Fresh, frozen or canned peas can be used, I prefer the frozen peas and I think that they are about as good as fresh. Another vegetable can be substituted if desired.

Parsley sauce is a savory white sauce flavored with parsley. It seems to be unknown in the U.S.A. but my family cannot get enough of it. I prefer to use Knorr parsley sauce mix which can be bought in the same online British stores as the Oxo cubes. Preparing the sauce is easy, just add the dry sauce mix to a small amount of milk, stir it into a paste, add the rest of the milk as directed on the packet and heat until it thickens. Parsley sauce mix must be prepared when the rest of the cooking is mostly done and must be stirred continually on a low to medium heat in a saucepan.

Parsley sauce is also great with fish (not fried) meals.

 

Bangers (Sausage), mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables with tomato gravy.

sausage and egg on plate

This is another family favorite and easy to make.

Use real bangers or sausages, not spicy hot, Italian, Polish Keilbasa or hot dogs. Ideally one would use British bangers or Irish sausages but I have been using the generic pork breakfast sausage links to good effect because they are readily available in the stores.

The sausages should be placed on a thin metal baking plate and placed on the top shelf of the oven on 450, until they are brown.

Mashed potatoes should be prepared in the same way as they are for the Shepards Pie.

I use frozen mixed vegetables and usually pay a little more for them by choosing a branded frozen product because they seem to be of a better quality.

The gravy is the special ingredient, it is made with Bisto powder, Oxo cubes and a small can of diced tomatoes. Bisto powder is another Brithish product, well known and loved in the U.K. For half a pint of gravy, use 4 level teaspoons of powder. I would normally prepare one pint of gravy using 8  level teaspoons of Bisto, add the powder to cold water, curmble 2 Oxo cubes into the mixture, drain the diced tomato and add it to the mix. Place the mixture into a large saucepan and prepare on a medium low to medium heat setting, stirring constantly until the mix has thickened into a gravy. If your gravy seems too thick, just add some more water, a little at a time until you get the desired consistancy. Poor the gravy liberally over all of the other ingredients of the meal and enjoy.

Like Oxo and Parsley sauce mix, Bisto powder can be bought in the same U.S. based online British stores.

 

These are just a few British meals and I will make other posts with more recipes at a later date.

A note on Britain’s most revered dish, Fish and Chips. I have never been able to match the quality of fish and chips prepared by a genuine fish and chip shop and I have not found anything to compare to it in the U.S.A. so far. This is something that you will have to go to the U.K. to get.

Fish and chips  are a take out food (“take away” in British English) although some shops do have “eat in” areas also. The fish is generally Cod, but other fish can be found, chips (fries) are a similar size to steak fries but are prepared diferently. Fish and chips was once traditionally served wrapped in genuine old newspaper and I remember eating them this way, but years ago, it was deemed unsanitary and now the dish is served in plain white paper, or sometimes a printed white paper made to look somewhat like newspaper to honor the tradition. Generally, one would add a lot of salt and malt vinegar to the whole meal before and during eating.

 

I don’t expect that a professional Chef, a French person or an Itailian person would be impressed with my meals, but they taste great, they are economical and they are filling. They are also the types of meals eaten by genuine British people.

 

Try some of them out, you may like them, my American family does, (except for the beans on toast of course).