Sometimes it’s difficult to describe some dishes as having a particular recipe. As with the Ploughman’s Lunch, a firm British favourite, these toasties are more of an assembly job. Still, I’ve never felt that there’s anything wrong with writing about interesting combinations and slightly more gastro versions of classics. Food is as much about ideas as it is about skill and complexity. So, for simplicity I’ll go on describing this ‘assemblage’ as a ‘recipe’. These Ploughman’s Toasties do, after all, make for a rather wonderful lunch, particularly if you’re in a bit of a pickle.
The key components of the classic British Ploughman’s Lunch are bread, cheese and pickle (or chutney). The ingredients you generally might find added to the Ploughman’s staples include cold meats – particularly ham – apples, pickled onions, tomatoes and a pint of refreshing beer* (though this tends to be served alongside and in a glass).
With this recipe I’ve attempted to channel as much of this as seems reasonably sensible from a culinary perspective. What results are two Ploughman’s Toasties packed with quality, flavourful ingredients that are unlikely to disappoint. The thyme, though not particularly common where Ploughman’s Lunch is concerned, really is the most important part of my recipe. It just gives the whole lunch a huge lift that certainly should not be missed.
* I regret to say that no pints were consumed alongside these particular toasties.
2 slices of good quality cured ham
2 slices of white bread
60g mature cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 small apple, finely sliced
A few sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp vegetable pickle
Toast both slices of bread on one side, under a grill. Fold each slice of ham over and place on top of the untoasted side of the bread. Layer the cheese on top of the ham and grill until melted and turning a little golden.
Layer the apple on top of the melted cheese before scattering with the fresh thyme and finishing with a healthy dollop of the finest pickle you can lay your hands on. Serve immediately.
Cost: Despite using a number of good-quality ingredients, these Ploughman’s Toasties can be made for relatively little money. A bit of locally sourced cheese and ham goes a long way, and two toasties should set you back no more than £1.80.