14 Delicious British comfort foods and how to make them

Updated February 21, 2017

Modern Britain borrows heavily from its past as an imperial nation and as a destination for globe-trotting travellers from far-off lands. However, although dishes like curries, pastas and stirfries are commonly found on dinner tables throughout the week, the old classics, made from ingredients like potatoes and farm meats, still pop up regularly on the forks of a hungry family.

The Sunday roast

Sunday is a day for the family to gather around the table and tuck into a roasted cut of meat such as a beef joint, roasted at an initial temperature of 220 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, and then at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes per kilogram weight. Typically sliced and boiled vegetables accompany boiled potatoes, and those cooks with time to spare make Yorkshire puddings by mixing a batter of milk, eggs and flour and cooking a few spoonfuls of this in hot oiled pudding moulds in the oven for 20 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.

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Savoury bacon and gruyere cheese scones

The concept of brunch may be relatively new in the British culinary dictionary but these scones prove why it landed on our shores. Easy to make Sunday morning treats that are perfect for a lazy day with the paper and some eggs.

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Fish and Chips

Freshly sliced potatoes, fried twice in in vegetable oil, make up the traditional chunky chips from the chipper, which are supposed to be highly flavoured with lots of salt and vinegar. The battered fish component is a fillet of white fish like cod dunked into a thick batter mix of white flour and beer and fried in the same oil as the chips.

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"Not British," we hear you say but that's what "British" food is all about. We adopt it, adapt and call it our own. Coleslaw comes from the Dutch word "koolsla" and the recipe below is to die for!

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Full breakfast

A fried breakfast is a favourite in Britain, and the dish has even gained a foothold on far-off shores where British tourists go for the summer sun. Basically, the dish involves a variety of fried meats such as bacon, sausages and fried eggs. Baked beans and fried button mushrooms also make an appearance. For a Northern Irish twist on the dish, triangular flat potato farls can be made and fried using a dough of cold mashed potato, a quarter of this weight of flour, half of the weight of flour in melted butter to bind and salt to season.

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Bangers and mash

Quick enough for the busiest of cooks, this dish of sausages on a bed of mash with gravy is homey and filling. The sausages can be fried in vegetable oil and the potatoes boiled and mashed with salt and pepper. Gravy granules mixed with hot water makes a basic sauce, to which can be added fried onions for taste.

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Lancashire hotpot

Lamb chunks tossed in flour and browned in oil are the basis of this dish, with flavour also coming from sliced carrots and onions, with chicken stock poured over to form the sauce. A cook can arrange thinly sliced potatoes over the top of this mixture to form the crust, and the entire hotpot is then cooked in the oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes, with the lid off for the last 20 minutes for the potatoes to turn a crispy golden colour.

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Garlic bread

Peter Kay hit the nail on the head when he summed up our national obsession with garlic and bread. Simply bread with a garlic sauce. It couldn't be any simpler, or it couldn't possibly be any more delicious.

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Steak and kidney pie

Rich gravy with chunks of steak and kidney makes up the interior of a steak and kidney pie, which is commonly topped with flaky golden puff pastry. Usually the meat is browned in oil, and the gravy is made from the flavoured oil in the pan with chopped onions, mushrooms, flour to thicken and beef stock to provide liquid and flavour. The finished pie is baked at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

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Cullen skink

Smoked fish makes an appearance in traditional British fare with chunks of smoked haddock in the cullen skink soup originating from Scotland. Made from a base of butter, leeks and onion, fish stock provides liquid, along with cream to thicken the soup. Chunky buttered bread is a common accompaniment.

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Shepherd's pie

Minced lamb is the traditional base of a shepherd's pie, along with mashed potato as topping, although commonly cooks use beef and wrongly call the resultant dish a shepherd's pie when technically it is a cottage pie. The meat is simply cooked with chopped onion and vegetable oil, and then sauced using Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and beef stock. After the mash is spooned or piped onto the meat, the pie crisps up in the oven for about 20 minutes.

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Welsh rarebit

Sometimes pronounced "rabbit", rarebit is actually a dish suitable for vegetarians. Melted butter and cheddar cheese are melted together in a pot with salt and pepper, and egg yolks and a dash of beer can also be added. This warm, spreadable mixture is designed to go on toast and grilled to give the dish a crisp texture.

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Toad in the hole

Fans of the Wind in the Willows need not fear for Toad in Toad Hall with this dish, which contains no toad, and not even any frogs. Instead, the dish is made up of a Yorkshire pudding batter with crispily fried sausages nestling in the batter, and cooked in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius. Beef gravy, again, can be used as an accompaniment.

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Winter stew

Nothing says "comfort" like a steaming bowl of winter stew and a warm fire, snuggling up to watch Coronation Street. This recipe will save you time during those long winter nights when the days close in all too quickly. Bliss.

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About the Author

Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.