Ploughman’s Lunch is a a very British and extremely popular pub lunch item. A meal consisting of cold meats, cheeses, bread, pickle and of course, beer. It’s like a picnic on plate. This is a fun way to eat. A little of this, a little of that. Make it gourmet or casual.
All week I’ve been bringing you the recipes that make up this Smörgåsbord of British food. First this week was pickle relish, then pickled onions. As you can see, there’s been a lot of pickling going on around here!
Ploughman’s lunch history only dates back to the 1960’s (which is really new by British standards!), it is said that it was devised as a marketing tactic by the English Cheese and Milk Marketing Board to promote the sale of cheese in pubs. However, it was also mentioned in the 1837 book Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott by John G. Lockhart, but it was a very vague reference as ‘a lunch for a ploughman.’ So nothing really ground-breaking for the history books, but historic nonetheless.
The components are quite specific. There must be a couple of semi-hard cheeses, English of course, some Ploughman’s chutney (pickle), pickled onions and sometimes either Scotch eggs or a pork pie and some bread if you feel like it.
This versatile meal a perfect lunch idea to eat on a warm Summer day sitting outside of the pub on picnic benches enjoying the rare warm sun and drinking a nice cold (yes, we do drink it cold) beer to wash it all down. Cheers!
Peppery radishes add a nice fresh crunch as well as celery and cherry tomatoes for a sweet colorful bite. You could also add English mustard.
The Ploughman’s is a perfect lunch idea to eat on a warm British ummer day sitting outside of the pub on picnic benches enjoying the rare warm sun and drinking a nice cold (yes, we do drink it cold) beer to wash it all down. Cheers!
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25 Comments on “Ploughman’s Lunch”
I made the chutney last week and served this as a picnic at home for my British friends. They loved it all, but miss the pork pie. I told them that they don’t exist here 🙂
😂 I’m working on a pork pie recipe. I’m glad they liked it regardless.
We do this sort of meal often. We are reading The Secret Garden in homeschool and Mary Lennox and the housekeeper have this meal on the train to Misselwraithe Manor. My kids were so excited to hear it because we love this meal. We’re not even British. I had to look it up so see if it was really an English thing! Great article.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m happy you found my post and was able to help 🙂
OK, my parents are visiting me from England next week and I’m making this for them. I’ve made the pickle and bought the onions because I didn’t have time. my dad is going to freak, he loves branston pickled. can’t wait to see their faces 🙂
Awww this is lovely. Come back and tell me what they thought.
My favorite way to eat lunch, so fresh and delicious! Nettie
Interesting. I’ve never had a pub meal but I am ready to try this delicious feast
This is such a classic here in the UK, Janette! There is nothing like a good Ploughman’s lunch – I love your homemade version – and especially the homemade pickle and pickled onions! Sharing on Facebook 🙂
Thank you April. I miss all the foods of home so I have to make my own 🙂
What a fantastic spread!! I love a casual and delicious meal and everything about this sounds so great!
What a great ploughman’s lunch and love the presentation Janette Pinned and shared
Der Janette, what a beautiful spread..this could be a meal in itself! xo, Catherine
This is a GREAT post, Janette! It’s years since I’ve had a ploughmans but reading this made me feel all proud of English food traditions and want to go out tomorrow and find one of these and eat it outside a nice country pub (shame about the cool day predicted tomorrow though).
I must look back at your pickle and pickled onion recipes too! 🙂
This looks fantastic!
Sadly though in the UK it’s actually quite rare to see this on the menu anymore – I’m not sure why that is (it’s all Thai fish cakes and pulled pork these days) but hopefully they’re due a revival because a good ploughman’s lunch is a very satisfying thing and goes beautifully with a pint of beer on a summer’s day.
And the traditional Great British pub itself is sadly a dying institution… dozens of them closing each week and only the ones that have turned themselves into upmarket restaurants seem to survive outside of touristy areas.
What a delicious spread. I love this!
This all came together beautifully. Everything looks fabulous.
This looks like a wonderful lunch to me! And pickled onions…yes please!
I just loooove meals like these! The pickled onions & relish? Yum! (This was also a nice reminder to me that I’ve wanted to try Scotch eggs!)
This looks delicious Janette! That pickle relish in the middle looks especially awesome. That has just got to be sooo good with the cold cuts.
It’s pretty tasty, thank you Erica
I love a good pub meal. There are so many wonderful cheese options. What kind of British beer goes best in a Ploughman’s lunch? I think a dark ale would be a great choice for this.
Love everything in this Ploughman’s Lunch! And I love the history behind it! Need to try it! I often make similar lunch (week day, when I’m by myself), but I use whatever ingredients I have! Love Stilton cheese!
It’s my favorite way to eat. Thank you Mira.