A Traditional Ploughman's Lunch

Monday, 15 July 2013


I went into this pub, and I ate a ploughman's lunch. He was livid.
~Tommy Cooper, British Comedian   

Ahhh . . .  the ploughman's lunch . . . you can't get more British or traditional than a ploughman's lunch.   With all of this hot weather, this is traditional pub fare that anyone can get sorted and onto the table without much fuss at all.

 photo SAM_7378_zps2589d87a.jpg

What is a ploughman's lunch? At it's very simplest,  it comprises a nothing more than a  thick wedge of crusty bread, a large chunk of tasty cheese and a pickled onion.It came into favor at a time when most pub's didn't actually serve much food at all, but nowadays pub's are mainly eating places, so it's become much more than that.    It's an easy meal to prepare on these hot summer days.  You don't need to turn the cooker on and so you can keep your cool.

  photo SAM_7374_zpsf32ed489.jpg

Cheese is an important aspect of the Ploughman's Lunch.  Traditionally the cheese would have been locally made . . . so it could have been anything from Stilton to Wensleydale.  Cheddar became the the standard and most popular cheese of choice for ploughman's lunches served in pubs in the 1960's, but I am happy to say that nowadays  it is not at all unusual to have a Stilton or even a non-Anglo cheese such as a Brie or a Camembert.   When I saw the name of this cheese here today, I could not resist.   I just had to buy it.

 photo SAM_7380_zpsd34355e3.jpg

Kick Ass Roasted Onion, Garlic and Chive Cheddar.  It did live up to it's name, in every way.  It kicked ass and it was delicious, with the wonderful  tang of a good cheddar mixed with just a hint of chive and onion, and a nice hit of garlic.  Well flavoured and delicious it was . . .

 photo SAM_7379_zpse35cd41c.jpg

In some pubs you won't find any cheese at all on the plate, instead opting for some ham or even a European Salami or even smoked sausage.  I used both ham and cheese.  I was lucky enough to be able to buy some ham ends at the market at only 70p for 100g.  I took 200g and it was fabulous.  I liked that it was chunky for the most part and very rustic in appearance.

  photo SAM_7381_zps526976c8.jpg

We did not have the traditional pickled onion with ours.  Whilst the Toddster does enjoy a pickled onion, I find them to be quite harsh and I don't really enjoy them.  Back home I did enjoy sweet pickled onions, but the huge ones they have over here, pickled in malt vinegar are a bit too strong for my liking.  Instead we had a chutney . . . still somewhat of a pickle, but sweeter and a bit spicy.

 photo SAM_7377_zps8c71b309.jpg

I added some sliced apple, but you could do grapes, or pears if you prefer.   I am not sure that fruit is traditional, but I know that it goes very well with the chutney, the jam AND the cheese.   So it's a win/win/win situation all over the plate.

 photo SAM_7375_zps4c929e47.jpg

I had no crusty bread . . . only a day old ciabatta loaf, but it worked beautifully, spread with some black pepper Boursin . . .  

 photo SAM_7377_zps8c71b309.jpg

I added some salad leaves and sliced cucumber to bring some colour and healthy crunch to the plate.  Radishes would be nice also.  Again, not totally traditional, but . . . meh . . . it's my lunch, my choice.

  photo SAM_7373_zps09765db6.jpg 

Traditional or not . . . pickled onion, or chutney, or even Branstons . . . ham or cheese or both . . . apples or grapes or no fruit at all . . . some tasty ham and a nice hunk of well flavoured cheese, some crusty bread and a bit of salad.   This went down a real treat, and it was cheap too.

We both enjoyed.  Summer food.  Pub food.  Tasty and enjoyable.  What more could a ploughman want?


  1. Wow, I've never heard of a ploughman's lunch but I'm sure this is what my English grandmother was serving me as a kid. Her own variation of it, anyway - bread, cheddar (or brie) sliced apples, grilled chicken livers with sea salt (or a few slices of salami), and a couple of small red radishes just picked from the garden while the livers were grilling.

  2. What a wonderful memory Jeannine!! Grandmothers are the best. I have lovely memories of my own and the molasses cookies she baked me. Well, they were for everyone really, but she always made me feel like they were only for me!

  3. I have enjoyed your tasty posts for a long time. I know you have a dog and I thought you might enjoy this video as a thank you for your daily inspirations.

  4. "Ploughman's lunch" is what we used to have for Sunday lunch when I was a teenager, but we called it "cold collage." It is the way that I would eat 95% of the time (breakfast, lunch, & dinner) if not for the fact that I have a husband who would object. It is possible to have those sorts of things, but they would have to be in sandwich form and "sandwiches don't have veggies in them!" ;) Well, he might put a few pieces of iceberg lettuce in there, but that would be pushing it. Men! I eat like this during the daytime and make a dinner that is more traditional.

  5. You're welcome Doris! Thanks for the kind words and the cute video! What an adorable pooch. That would be a really handy dog to have around. I wonder if I could train Mitzie to make my toast in the morning!!

    Laura, I would happily eat things like this for my supper every day, but you are right . . . men like sturdier, stodgier fare. Todd is a meat and potatoes kind of a guy really!!! I tolerates my muses because he loves me. I do appreciate it!

  6. This reminds me of a date I went on years ago. I ordered a Ploughmans, and was steadfastly avoiding the pickled onion, because I didn't think the date would want me breathing onion breath on him all afternoon. Next thing, he said, are you not eating that, and before I could answer, he had eaten it himself!

  7. I sympathise with your dislike of big English pickled onions. However a more detailed perusal of the supermarket shelf may locate smaller milder silverskin onions in white vinegar or even sweet pickled onions with some sugar added to the vinegar. They are there, just a little bit shy and harder to find.

  8. Tracey, You made me laugh! I can remember not wanting to eat in front of boys at all! I wish I was like that now! I might be a few pounds lighter!

    Karen Lizzie, thanks for the info. I will follow your lead. I know back home we all wanted the pickled onion in the jar of sweet pickles! (the cauliflower too!)

  9. Just found this site. YAY.
    Mum was from Kent & married my Da here in the US.
    Her version of a Ploughmans was a thick slice of her homemade bread with butter, whatever cheese we had, sliced tomatoes and always her pickled onions.
    She pickled them in cider vinegar and McCormick's pickling spices.
    I have her pickled onion crock and it is currently full of a batch of my pickled onions done in red wine vinegar and McCormicks. YUM

  10. Welcome Manxkity! Happy you found me! Your pickled onions sound fab and I think they are probably even more delicious because of your mum's pickled onion crock! xx

  11. I was 15 when I had my very first and last Ploughman's Lunch. So I asked my wife if she would like me to make one for us both at the first classic lorry show we take our lorry to in May and camp there. She has never had one. So I said that is that sorted. A Ploughman's is thee best summer meal in my point of view. Served with either pint(s) of Guinness. Real Ale or rough cloudy Scrumpy. I will decide that when nearer the weekend we go. I have sorted the recipe for this already.

    1. You can't beat a good Ploughman's Keith and they are the perfect portable lunch! Enjoy!

  12. Oh how I miss these, I am English and now live in the states and I miss cheese more than anything especially a lovely red Leicester. where we live have not good cheese shops so I long for them... Will have to come back soon for a good ploughmans and a carvery night..

    1. Oh yes Red Leicester is a real treat! Actually all of the cheese over here is delicious! Can you find any good cheeses over there?? xo


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you so do not be shy! Please don't attempt to leave spam or comments with links. They will be deleted immediately. I don't even read them. Your comments will also not be posted if they are nasty either to myself or to other readers. Play nice.