Great BritainVegetables

Even the English, notorious for their unadorned cuisine, would not pretend that what they do to vegetables is cookery, merely that they cook them. Vegetables (like medicine) are good for you in England, they aren't supposed to taste nice. The English generally don't regard ingredients as food anyway until they have been properly subdued by cooking, and the older generation are still famously wary of anything raw, regarding it as dangerously indigestible or worse. Scrote would be too embarrassed to claim that what follows are recipes, but he feels duty-bound to mention somewhere in the great work the other constituents that comprise the classic English dish, "Meat & Two Veg".

the main contents list Meat Dishes dishes with fishes

last updated 30th April 2000

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Tatties & Bashed Neaps
Pommes Dauphinoises
Green Salad

Basically the English just peel vegetables and then boil them in a saucepan of water with a dash of salt until they are soft. That's it. That's all there is to it. The boiling water is drained-off and thrown away when they are done, and then the vegetables are just served. In England, the only knowledge required to cook vegetables is which vegetables are in season and how long to boil them for. (This so they can be served up at the same time as the rest of the meal). With tinned vegetables, and the arrival of frozen vegetables in the 60's, even this little knowledge is unnecessary- they are just heated through and then drained.

Generally root vegetables need to be boiled for at least 20 minutes before they really start to soften, so most cooks put on the vegetables about half an hour before they plan to serve, but the time needed is basically something that every cook has to learn by experience. Big vegetables take longer to cook than small ones, which cook more quickly. Old vegetables are tougher and more fibrous, and need more boiling than young ones, which are more tender. The way to find out if a vegetable is cooked (after it has been boiling for a while) is to stick a fork into it. If you can push the fork all the way through then it is done, but if in doubt - boil it some more. In England, you can serve up brussel sprouts and cabbage that have been boiled for so long that all the green colour has turned yellow, and most people won't even notice.

Carrots, turnips, parsnips, brussels sprouts, peas, beans, green beans and of course potatoes (which are invariably one of the two Veg) can all be treated like this, and usually are. Larger vegetables such as swedes, cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli are usually chopped into smaller pieces before boiling to help the interior cook, and also so no-one ends up with a whole cabbage on their plate.

If the vegetable is exceptionally young, tender and unblemished, such as young carrots or potatoes, then the English may daringly cook them with the skin still on, without peeling them first. Afterwards they often put a small pat of butter on these vegetables, to melt over them. Old vegetables may be mashed after they have been boiled to soften them even further, and a knob of butter (& even cream sometimes) may be stirred in to improve what is usually a frankly disgusting texture. Potatoes, swede, turnips and sometimes cauliflower can all be mashed like this. However mashing only really works with pale vegetables, and carrots cabbage and green beans are more usually sliced beforehand instead.

When meat is being roasted, the English will also roast their vegetables as well, for a change. Mainly it is potatoes that are roasted (and very good they are too) but roast parsnips and small whole onions are also very traditional. Roughly-chopped carrots, leeks, turnips and potatoes may also be put under a pot-roast. Generally the English do not adorn their vegetables more for special occasions. If show or special care is wanted, then they just serve more of them. For a Sunday Roast or a Christmas dinner, five or six different vegetables would not be considered at all unreasonable.