Guide to Classical British Cooking

This fascinating article on cuisine from the United Kingdom is from guest author Aaron Hopkins.

My wife works for Nicholas Anthony, if you have not heard of them they sell designer kitchens and so needless to say my wife LOVES her kitchen and cooking. We are both big fans of classic British cooking so I was inspired to put this article together with some of our favourites, enjoy!

Although many foreigners believe the food in Britain leaves a lot to be desired, there is however, a wealth of traditional fare in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and it stands up well against any other European specialities. Each region of the country has its own national dish which makes for interesting, classical British cooking at its very best.

Lobster by Robert Banh on flickr

Dublin Lawyer, a superb Irish lobster culinary delight

Traditional Irish Dishes

For the Irish, the home and family have always been an important factor and today the kitchen still remains very much the centre of a home. Although, you may think the food it’s all about potatoes, there are some fantastic cheeses and wonderful seafood dishes which are a real delight to savour. Then of course, there are two of the most famous drinks in the world produced in the Emerald Isles – Irish Whiskey and Guinness.

The country’s most well-known and much loved dish has to be Irish lamb stew. It’s a hearty, full flavour meal that boasts a hint of beer! For those who love seafood, then the Dublin Lawyer might be a dish that surprises – it’s made with lobster, cream and of course a good dash or two of Irish Whiskey.

Traditional Welsh Fare

The smallest of the British Isles, Wales offers quite an interesting array of traditional dishes. Especially good are the cheeses produced in the lush Welsh valleys. Caerphilly is one of the best known exports but there are some delicious soft and blue cheeses too. Wales is known the world over for its Welsh Black Beef and of course, its Welsh Mountain lamb but what people may not know is there is a food festival held somewhere in Wales almost every weekend of the year.

One of the more traditional Welsh dishes is Cawl which is a stew but it can be made with many different ingredients. Each region of Wales uses ingredients grown and produced in that area. In the valleys the meat could be lamb or mutton, however on the coast the main ingredient would be fish – hence restaurants serve seafood cawl. Other wonderful culinary delights include a Welsh vegetarian sausage, made using Caerphilly cheese, leeks with mustard added and then all this is rolled into sausages coated with breadcrumbs – Glamorgan sausages are very popular and found on many menus all over Wales.

Smokies by chatirygirl on flickr

Arbroath smokies, a traditional Scottish dish

Traditional Scottish Delights

Scotland, a beautiful part of the country where the skies are big and the coastlines superb. Most people have heard of haggis – a Scottish delight people either love or detest. But there are other wonderful traditional dishes that people may not know about which includes Arbroath smokies. For centuries Scotland enjoyed a thriving fishing industry – much depleted in these modern times, Arbroath smokies are a throwback to the days when the fishing industry was doing well. The haddock is hot smoked over oak chips until the skin turns golden brown – but the flesh inside is pearl white, absolutely delicious.

No one can visit the Highlands without tasting haggis – it’s a hearty meal, full of flavour and spices. Haggis is made out of lamb’s heart, liver and lung and then simmered in game stock before it is minced twice with other ingredients – onions, spices and pinhead oatmeal. Haggis is not to everyone’s taste but it is an authentic Scottish dish. When thinking about food and Scotland, whisky and ales produced in the land have to get a mention because they are superb!

Traditional English Fare

When people think of English food, they normally think about roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and in close second come fish and chips. These days, English traditional dishes are quite delicious as they have been given a modern twist. However, there are other dishes people may not know about which includes the tasty dish called potted shrimps.

Potted shrimps first appeared on the scene in Victorian times when cooks would brown shrimps with clarified butter. Today this wonderful dish is served up in many of the top London restaurants accompanied by brown toast and a glass of dry white wine – who could ask for more?

English fare has always included pies of one sort or another but Melton Mowbray pork pies, take this dish to a whole new level, winning many awards over time. The recipe is protected but the pies are made out of season pork from hand reared pigs!


Classic British food has come a long way from the days of old. Many of the traditional regional dishes have been given a modern day twist – the result? Fantastic cuisine that’s on a par with any other traditional dishes the world over. Then of course there are the outside influences that captured the British taste buds – one dish in particular has made its mark, Chicken Tikka Masala an Indian inspired dish which today is considered a traditional British one – which only proves how time and palates have moved on!

Images from used under the Creative Commons license. Image credits: Robert Banh and chatirygirl.

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