Piccalilli

I’ve always wanted to write a character that was utterly stereotypical and gloriously clichéd. Not very believable though, I’d always think. Yet when drafting out my new novel, I thought ‘Why not?’, it’s my book – I can write what I like.

Being a Brit, it would be no exaggeration to say, that we love our quirks. So, with a giggle, I hit the books (*Googled it) and waited anxiously to find out just how quirky our lovable British culture can truly get.

I found a list (I’m a big fan of lists): The Telegraph’s top 50 ‘Typically British’ stereotypes. This should be good, I rubbed my hands together.

Number 1: Eating a traditional roast dinner on a Sunday. Well, who doesn’t?

Number 2: Putting the kettle on in a crisis. How else would you deal with one?

Number 3: Eating a full English breakfast. Where’s my knife and fork?

Number 4: The ability to queue nicely. I pride myself on my queuing prowess.

Number 5: Cheering on the underdog. Ed Balls should have gone home with the glitter ball.

And so it goes on… I went through the entire 50, and checked off 44 of them, which made me realise that my character draft would not be as outlandishly bizarre as I had originally thought. In fact, said character would be me. Well, that certainly gave me food for thought. Am I really that eccentric?! I mulled to myself, whilst flicking the kettle on, pulling out a packet of Digestives for dunking and shutting the curtains coz it’s getting a bit blustery outside.

Not only that, but I could think of even more quirks, which brings me to this recipe.

Piccalilli.

In my book, a British staple. What else would you want on the side of a pork pie, or dolloped next to a hunk of cheddar, a slice of bread and an apple, but delightfully tangy Piccalilli. Impossible to get here in Switzerland and has earned me quite a few raised eyebrows when I inquired after it, which is why I started making my own, and I’ll tell you what, I’d never go back. Homemade Piccalilli is the way forward, my friends. So even if they imported an entire fleet of trucks filled with Piccalilli and opened a Piccalilli shop called Piccafrickinglilli, I wouldn’t even be tempted to buy a single jar. Because I’d never go back to the shop-bought stuff! NEVER! (said in my best Winston Churchill impression).

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RECIPE: Piccalilli

SOURCE: Adapted from Pam’s Piccalilli at River Cottage and Rasa at Friendly Nettle

FLAVOUR PROFILE: Tangy. Sweet. Sharp.

GOES GREAT WITH: Mature cheddar and cold meats as part of a Ploughman’s Lunch. It’s awesome with a pork pie! Use like a chutney in sandwiches.

NOTES: With the vegetables, it’s up to you what the ratios are. If you love cauliflower, load it up. If you hate green beans, leave them out. As long as the total weight comes to 1kg, you’re all good.

MAKES: 4 x 300ml jars

INGREDIENT LIST

  • 1kg (TOTAL AMOUNT)  CAULIFLOWER, COURGETTE, GREEN BEANS, RED ONION, BELL PEPPER, CARROTS. Chopped depending on how you would like the consistency to be. I wanted more of a sandwich pickle, so I chopped my veg finely. If you like a chunky chutney, then roughly chop.
  • 1/2 APPLE, chopped the same as the veg.
  • 1/2 MANGO, chopped the same as the veg.
  • 50g SALT
  • 30g CORNFLOUR
  • 10g GROUND TURMERIC
  • 10g MUSTARD POWDER
  • 15g YELLOW MUSTARD SEEDS
  • 1 tsp CORIANDER SEEDS, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tsp CUMIN SEEDS, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 600ml CIDER VINEGAR
  • 150g GRANULATED SUGAR
  • 50g HONEY
  • 2 cloves GARLIC
  • 1/2 tsp GROUND NUTMEG
  • 2 tbsp. OLIVE OIL

METHOD:

  1. Put the CAULIFLOWER, COURGETTE, GREEN BEANS, RED ONION, PEPPER and CARROTS in a large bowl. Add the SALT and cover with water. Leave in a cool place for 2 hours, then drain thoroughly.
  2. Heat the OIL in a large saucepan. Add the MUSTARD SEEDS, MUSTARD POWDER, TURMERIC, NUTMEG, CORIANDER and CUMIN. Cook for a minute. The seeds will start to pop and splutter. Make sure you don’t burn the spices; as soon as you can smell their aroma, lower the heat.
  3. Add the CORNFLOUR and A GLUG OF CIDER VINEGAR and whisk together to make a smooth paste.
  4. Gradually add THE REST OF THE VINEGAR, whilst continually whisking so that the mixture is lump-free.
  5. Add the APPLE, MANGO, GARLIC, SUGAR and HONEY, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Take the drained salted VEGETABLES and add them to the mixture. Give it a good stir, making sure that all the vegetables are nicely coated.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid. (Maybe use the time looking up the top 50 British stereotypes and see how many you check off.) Sometimes, I need to reduce it for a bit longer to reach the right consistency, however I wouldn’t recommend going over the half hour mark, as you want the vegetables to retain a bit of bite.
  8. Spoon into sterilised jars and store in a cool dark place for at least 4 weeks.

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