Tuesday, 6 May 2008

So what's really in a Yorkshire salad?

Have you ever heard of Yorkshire salad?

I hadn't, until last Sunday when we had lunch in the cafe at Sledmere House. Sledmere is a decent eighteenth century pile in the East Riding. Like all the best country houses, what you see isn't actually what you get - Sledmere was gutted by fire in 1911. It was carefully rebuilt, however, and stands today as a proper country house and tourist attraction, with a play area, extensive gift shop and very nice cafe.

Now, a Yorkshire salad, according to the menu, is a salad with York ham and piccalilli. This works very well. While psychologically, piccalilli may evoke Boxing Day and the dried-up crusty bits around the rim of a jar that's only opened once a year, it's actually a lovely thing to have with ham. Its mustardy, vinegary bite cuts through the fat sweetness of the ham very nicely. This was also the largest portion of ham I'd ever seen - if I'd laid it out flat it would have covered half the table. Great value. I'd recommend it.

So when I got home I googled Yorkshire salad. Was this something Sledmere had invented, or had I been missing something? Was this one of the world's great salads, recently pushed to the sidelines by upstarts Caesar, Waldorf and ni├žoise?

I didn't get an awful lot of hits. On the Sheffield forum (Sheffield has a forum?) Banjo Griner enthused about eating Yorkshire salad with Yorkshire pudding - 'That's finely diced onion and cucumber steeped in vinegar by the way. Very traditional way of serving Yorkies.' and Supertyke agreed: 'My dear old mum used to love yorkshire salad B.G. - And it really is a tasty way to eat yorkies - (puddings not dogs!!) though it doesn't particularly sound appetising - folks should try it...'

Elsewhere in cyberspace, Alison Hammond gave a recipe - lettuce, onions, mint, sugar and vinegar.

I can't help thinking some combination of these recipes is called for. Caesar salad has its croutons, so how about serving Sledmere-style salad with a Yorkshire pudding on top?


Anonymous said...

Our family (half from Batley West Yorkshire and half from Barnsley South Yorkshire) have always eaten Yorkshire puddings with Yorkshire salad. The Yorkshire salad being sliced onion and cucumber in vinegar forked on to the puddings.

Steve Guy said...

Im from Swaledale in the North Riding and we always have Yorkshire slad with our beef and Yorkshires. For our family we use; as you have already said, cucumber, lettuce, mint, onion, sugar and vinegar. There are some differences in other families. Some add tomato to the basic recipe and in one case they add cream. Not tried that one though.

Lois said...

The Alison Hammond recipe is what we called Yorkshire salad in South Yorkshire in the 1950s and 1960s. Importantly, it must be eaten with hot crispy bacon and boiled new potatoes, with the bacon fat poured, sizzling, over the salad on each plate as the meal is served. De-lectable!!
With yorkshire pudding? Never! (We had raspberry vinegar with that!)

Sarah said...

My family are from Reeth, North Yorkshire and my nan makes it with lettuce and onion soaked in a bit of vinegar for about half an hour then adds a spoon full of sugar and then milk. Best taste ever on mash potato and yorkshire puds!

Anonymous said...

My nan refused to serve Yorkshires with the main meal - a starter always - thinly sliced (not diced) whole white onion, thin cucumber slices, in malt vinegar - refrigerated and then served with gravy on top of the Yorkshires with the onion and cucumber. Oh and she was from Tadcaster.

Anonymous said...

The correct ingredients for Yorkshire Salad...
Shredded Lettuce & RADISH (red skin)
sugar & malt vinegar.

That's it, nothing more.

TC said...

We've just had 'vinegar salad' an old favourite, with our Yorkshire puds, my nan was making it when I was little:
Toms with sugar on put into lettuce and sliced onion with mint and swimming in vinegar, always on yorkshires and always before the main dinner
My boyf is from Lancashire and thinks we are weird haha

Anonymous said...

I was searching for something my wicked stepmother used to make that she called 'wet salad' The Alison Hammond recipe sounds like it fits the bill ...... she really WAS wicked the 'wet salad' being her only virtue :)

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Julian (UK) said...

My parents are from the NW and we always had a dish on the table when we had roast beef. It contained finely sliced white onion, sugar and malt vinegar. It was prepared half an hour before we had lunch.