From Staffordshire to Stonehouse on a plate

This afternoon I spent some time with my butcher sorting out his Facebook page. He’d set up a page for the shop a while ago but had done it as a personal wall. I opened a business page for him a few months back so today we spent 10 minutes changing the wall page to his personal page and made him a manager of his business page. The advantages of this set up are:

  • it keeps his personal stuff and his business stuff separate
  • people can like his page rather than put in a friend request and have to wait to be accepted
  • people can find his business page without having a Facebook account
  • he can appoint other shop staff to help him look after the page
  • he can make better use of the Facebook business bootcamps

I’ll help him add content over the next few weeks with cooking tips, information about cuts of meat, food miles and lots more.

Every now and again when I’m checking out the Comms2Point0 tweets in the morning they mention oatcakes and bacon. I always thought they were talking about Scottish oatcakes so I didn’t really understand what could be so good about the combination. Then I found a recipe for Staffordshire oatcakes and things fell into place. Basically they’re healthy crepes made with wholemeal flour and oatmeal. According to Dan Slee, the perpetrator of this particular food curiosity, they were a staple for the Staffs pottery workers and at lunchtime would be eaten cold with a filling of bacon, grated cheese and brown sauce. Now that we’ve sampled them with almost the traditional filling, I fancy getting more adventurous – I think chorizo and roasted red peppers will be next.

Today I have learned:

  • if you see the PGI (Protected geographical Indication) logo and the Scotch beef logo it means the meat you’re buying was born, reared and slaughtered in Scotland
  • my son (age 5) is now a better swimmer than me
  • there is such a thing as a healthy crepe

Today’s track

Until I heard this I had no idea of the provenance of Kanye West’s Gold Digger. Now Kanye doesn’t seem so clever.

Today’s recipe

Staffie oatcakes

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Serves 4

Ingredients

112g fine oatmeal

50g wholemeal flour

50g plain flour

half a tsp fast-action yeast

pinch of salt

424mls water

1 dstsp baking powder

8 slices smoked bacon

4 handfuls cheddar cheese, grated

a knob of butter

4 handfuls chestnut mushrooms, sliced

sunflower oil for frying

Method: Put the oatmeal, flours, yeast and salt in a bowl and mix. Add the water and mix to a batter. Leave, covered for 3-4 hours. Mix again them whisk in the baking powder.

Heat a frying pan, not too big, and add a little oil. Add a ladleful of the batter to the pan and swirl to coat. Cook until bubbles appear then flip and cook the other side. Remove to a plate with a sheet of baking paper. Keep making oatcakes till the batter is used up and separate them with baking paper.

Meanwhile grill the bacon and fry the mushrooms in the butter.

Once everything is ready put an oatcake back in the pan you cooked them in over a medium heat. Cover with a layer of grated cheese, a couple of bacon slices to one side and a layer of mushrooms on top of that. When the cheese has melted flip the cheesy side of the pancake over onto the mushroom side to create a sandwich and serve.

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3 comments

  1. Dan Slee · March 17, 2013

    Lovely.

    I’m so glad that tweets from @comms2point0 about these things got picked up!

    Mind. To purists in Fegg Hayes, Bentilee and Audlam this enough to make you choke on your oatcake au gratin.

    “Crepes?”

    “Chuffing CREPES? Thems oatcakes, mar mate!”

    The oatcake is one of the overlooked regional delicacies of Britain and is held as a badge of honour by people from North Staffordshire.

    The story goes that they are the original fusion food. Soldiers from the region spent time in India and quite liked chippatis which morphed into the oatcake they took home with them.

    They used to be a good way of taking your dinner to work when you were working in the pot banks of Stoke-on-Trent. Once rolled up they can slip into a pocket or a sleeve quite easily.

    Oatcake shops have the same role as bakeries in France. Each community has one and is fiercely defensive of them as they have a slightly different receipe. Look at the fuss, for example, when the Hole in the Wall oatcake shop closed in Hanley: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-17251598

    As far as time of day is concerned, for me, the oatcak works best at breakfast time.

    I grill one side until it is slightly crisp.

    I turn it over and grate cheese on the other.

    When that’s melted I add sausage (veggie for me) or bakon and roll it up and have it hot.

    For hangovers they’re perfect.

    • carolynemitchell · March 17, 2013

      I did worry about upsetting the purists but they are so tasty I can’t just save them for breakfast.
      I may even try a sweet filling for pudding. You could even do mini ones with scallops and black pudding for a starter then you’ve got all three courses covered. Or is that a step too far?

  2. Anne-Marie · May 13, 2013

    Just like the Cornish have cornish pasties we have our Staffordshire oatcakes – and our oat pancakes are much healthier in comparison. Although I thought the oatcake dates older than when soldiers were stationed in India – I was told it’s been around for centuries.

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