Unlike the boozy events that lead to them, hangovers are not renowned for their abilities to inspire their owners. Courtesy of the good people at Brewdog, and their craft beer-fueled hospitality at the epic new Shoreditch bar last night, this morning’s dose of the boozy haze can be roughly compared to a foggy day on a Dundee beach. Miserable, grey, and reeking of drink.
Today’s inspiration came more from necessity than anything else, with a quick, meaty shop and a raid of the cupboards teeing up a staggeringly satisfying (and unspeakably unhealthy) breakfast butty. The rich, fruity hangover had met its match.
First up, fire up the oven, and put your snaggers in - make sure they’re decent, with 80% or more pork. Cheap sausages are one of the most offensive food products on the planet, and will ruin any meal they’re involved in. While they’re cooking, get to work on your hash browns.
Carbs are a hangover’s natural nemesis (well, that and a cold floor. Seriously, next time you’re hanging out your arse after a big night, lie on a cold, laminate floor and see how good it feels. You’re welcome.). This is where the hash brown comes in - just grate some onion and potato together and use paper towel to get as much moisture out as possible, before seasoning to taste. Pan fry these, alongside the sliced black pudding, and pop in the bottom of the oven to keep warm for a few minutes.
Last of all - ham and eggs. Fry the bacon in the dirty pan, and then last of all, do the eggs. They’ll look grubby because of everything that’s been cooked in there, but they’ll taste much better. Leave ‘em runny for maximum satisfaction.
Putting the butty together is simply a case of building the meaty monument from a solid foundation upwards. Get your egg in at the base, with the sausage resting on top (butterfly them, or you’ll constantly be picking up stray snaggers that have rolled out onto your lap). Next, pop in the hash browns, and add the bacon and black pud. Sauce is a bit of a contentious one, but being raised on the virtues of brown, it’s the obvious choice - rock out the Wilkin and Sons if you’re feeling flash.
That’s it. Nothing complex, no complicated seasoning or cooking - let’s face it, hangover food is about feel-good fodder, not pushing the culinary envelope. Next time you’re planning a big one, plan a big shop. With a full fridge and a fry up, you’ll get through it. Just remember that cold floor.
Venison sausagemeat, fried egg and Jarlsberg muffin
A few weeks back, on the way to a wedding, I had a sausage and egg McMuffin. Normally, this is the kind of shameful admission that you’d assume would be followed by a round of applause and a group hug, washing away the guilt of having hit up the Golden Arches for a brekkie fix. Not a bit of it. It was good. Damn good. That said - if something that tasty (albeit presented with all the aesthetic flair of a well-punched face) can be knocked out by an early-shift burger flipper in Robroyston, then The Butty’s clearly going to step up and do it better. What’s more, you’re getting a how-to on the whole thing.
First things first - good sausages are a necessity. Today’s antler-clad bastard features the meat from a pack of venison, pork and red wine snaggers, but any good bangers with a high meat content will see you right. Slice them down the middle (two per muffin), and squeeze out the meat into a bowl, before mashing them into a burger-style patty.
If you’re feeling healthy, grill them, but it’s a bank holiday, so get the frying pan out - you’ll be needing it anyway for the eggs. Fry the patties until they’re cooked through, and set them aside.
Next, pop a couple of sliced English muffins under the grill to toast a little. Then, if you’re feeling smart, use some cooking rings to do the wanky hockey-puck eggs as you fry them in the pan - realistically, it’s easier to do them sunny-side up, as you would normally, and then use an up-turned glass to slice a perfect circle out of them.
With the eggs fried, the patties rested, and the muffins toasted, grate a little Jarlsberg and assemble the muffins, garnishing the top of the egg with a good dod of the Norwegian cheese. A few minutes back under the grill to melt the cheese, and it’s all done, save a good squirt of ketchup, a grind of pepper, or a dash of Tabasco.
Better than the real deal? Hard to say. A dirty bit of fast food has its place in everyone’s life, now and again. It’s certainly a damn good way to kick off the last day of a bank holiday. Hell, at least you can legitimately claim you stayed away from the Drive Thru.
Wiltshire roast ham with homemade ragu & basil
For all its faults, London does a few things very well, and right now, food’s definitely one of them. The throng of tiny, amazing pop-ups, residencies and street food collectives springing up all over the capital means you can’t duck down an alley for a piss without bumping into someone looking to sell you some epic hand-made or home-made grub, along with a locally brewed beer. Frankly, it’s awesome.
This butty’s inspired, in part, by a girlfriend-impressing trip to Forza Win, the Pizza Pilgrims’ sold-out rooftop supper club in Spittalfields. At Forza, as the precursor to their wafer thin, perfectly cooked Neopolitan pizzas, they serve ragu as a starter. Not the heavy, dark, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink variety that every man in Britain confidently claims to be the master of, but rather the light, elegant, authentically Italian version.
Of course, this has inspired imitation on my part, and following a fairly good punt at an homage to Forza’s triumphant pasta dish, there’s been an abundance of leftover ragu in the fridge. In this butty, the slow-cooked mixture of ground beef, crumbled sausagemeat, tomato, celery, onion and carrot plays a supporting role to some thick-cut roast ham underneath, and a fragrant basil salad above. On un-toasted bread, served with a little mustard, finely grated parmesan and ground pepper, it’s one of the most flavoursome cold sandwiches that’s been served up on The Butty, without any semblance of a doubt.
Leftovers always make for good sandwiches, but when they build on something that was great in the first place, then they’re even better. Next time you knock it out of the park in the kitchen at dinner time, stash away a little bit for tomorrow. It’ll be even better between a couple of bits of bread at lunchtime the next day.