Cuisine in BBC’s very popular series, Downton Abbey, is divided into two distinct groups – elegant fare for those upstairs and far more traditional dishes for those below.
Upstairs dishes were often prepared with a French flair at included pates, ices, elaborate gelatins and carved garnishes. Downstairs dishes were simpler, more filling – in short, fuel for the then standard 18 hour work day.
There was, however, one dish that combined both of these diverse worlds - a little known gem of English cuisine: The Shooter’s Sandwich. Whether you were a Lord or Lady, gamekeeper or loader, this was fare enjoyed by all no matter the size or grandeur of one’s kitchen.
The creation of a Shooter’s sandwich is easy but the end result is impressive. To create the sandwich you will need a hardy, firm textured round loaf of bread, cooked meat and fresh cheese of choice, mushrooms, onions, mustard and a heavy weight as well as paper and string (more about that later).
Begin by carefully slicing the top of the load off to create a ‘cap’. Be sure to safe the top as you will need it later. Next hollow out the loaf, removing the interior bread without cutting through to the outer crust.
Once this has been done, tightly pack the interior of the loaf with layers of your selected meats, cheeses, vegetables and mustard (or other spread if so desired). Please note the word “tightly” here as you truly want to pack the loaf as full as possible.
Replace the top and place the loaf on a sheet of paper that (1) will not damage the food and (2) is large enough to wrap around the sandwich at least twice. Wrap the sandwich up and tie securely with string.
Now comes the fun part. In Edwardian days the wrapped sandwich was put into a food press and compacted down to form a firm sandwich that was easy to transport and that never fell apart. For a shooting party, it was near perfect and everyone from Lord to Loaders enjoyed them.
Today, you can easily create the same effect with a few heavy bricks. The result, when cut into wedges, is very definitely English!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2013