Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Manor House Farm and the “Full English” with Baked Bean Stuffed Sausage

Manor House Farm  Prestwood, Staffordshire

When I decided at the last minute to go to England a few weeks ago, the first thing I did was grab my National Trust guide to decide on great houses to visit. With limited time, I had to confine my peregrinations so I wouldn’t spend half my trip in my car. I settled on visiting places in the SW of London and the magnificent Peak District a few hours north of London (driving through Peak District National Park is a vacation all by itself –– the view is a spa-day for a worn and/or rumpled spirit).

Since I was visiting the Peak District once more I tried to stay at the Manor Farm at Dethick again (that I wrote about HERE) but they were booked. Given my druthers, I wanted a place in the country with a good bit of age to the buildings.  I decided to stay at  Manor House Farm Prestwood, Staffordshire after seeing their many hospitality awards and reading the ecstatic guest reviews (thanks to Alistair Sawday’s guide for great suggestions for places to stay).

Manor House Farm was midway between Little Moreton and Hardwick Hall. It was the best choice I could have made (and at a great price as well).


The farm has been in Chris Ball’s family for generations and he and his wife Margaret have burnished the home’s character to a fine sheen. The gardens climb up the hill at the front of the house and are dotted with amusing follies and ancient bits that suit the plantings. Cows and their calves were lowing in the field (well one was sort of bleating earnestly –– seems she was pining for a boyfriend, according to Chris).

Aside from farming and gardening, Chris is a passionate collector of antiques with gorgeous Tudor and Jacobean pieces that look like they have lived there forever. That is really the magic of the place. Unlike many “ye olde” recreations at B&B’s I have seen with polyester floral prints and reproduction furniture, Manor House Farm feels authentic. It’s the perfect country place (as in –– I could live there forever).

In the middle of a hectic schedule, my 2 nights here were like a cool drink of water on a sultry afternoon. My biggest regret was that I hadn’t built a quiet day into my schedule so that I could spend time in the garden, visit with all the animals (especially the 2 spaniels that have very winning personalities) and explore neighboring farms. I won’t make that mistake again.

“Full English” breakfast ingredients, graphic from The Breakfast Bible

The edible highlight of the visit to Manor House Farm was the “Full English” breakfast that was made with products from the farm and neighboring farms –– eggs, bacon, sausage, black or white pudding, tomatoes, beans and toast. It was a great meal in a gorgeous room and it fortified me for the whole day of running around with nary a hunger pain. Somerset Maugham said “To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.” –– the English do a great breakfast.

As soon as I got back from my trip, the NYT’s ran a piece on a book that I had to buy the moment I saw it and now want to recommend. It’s called The Breakfast Bible –– talk about perfect timing.

Breakfast Solar System from Breakfast Bible

It’s written by a very funny fellow who writes the blog, The London Review of Breakfasts. The book is full of genius tips for cooking eggs, great anecdotes and recipes for breakfast classics from all over the world. If you eat breakfast, you need this book. If you get invited to weekends in the country,  your hosts will welcome you as an honored guest if you bring this as a house present.

When my cooking group’s topic was “stuffed” this month, I wondered what I could do to my ideal English breakfast to serve something stuffed. I checked out my new Breakfast Bible for inspiration and grabbed their heavenly recipe for eggs titled “Effortless Genius” but there was nothing stuffed about them. Then the idea came into my head to stuff my homemade sausage with baked beans as I perused their sausage section. It’s sort of like a Scotch Egg with beans instead of egg. The idea in my head was that it could make canned beans taste amazing with the juices from the pork flavoring the beans and that it would make great homemade beans taste even better –– it worked.

Ken Albala's toupin-ish pot

Although you can use canned beans, I happened to have some great baked beans in the freezer that I had made a few months ago. My friend, historian and potter Ken Albala had made me a wonderful take on a toupin when I had fallen in love with an antique I’d seen and moaned that I couldn’t find one for less than a few hundred dollars. Although they were originally used for storing milk or infusing teas as far as I can tell, it worked perfectly to make a small batch of fabulous baked beans. You can make my recipe, your own or buy a good can of baked beans if you reduce the liquid in the beans when you used them for stuffing the sausage. My mother used to buy canned beans and "doctor them" by cooking with  additional spices and flavorings –– this works quite well.

A few of the recipes for English sausage used dried rusks instead of breadcrumbs so I threw in a recipe for you.  I read that they soak up more water and make juicier sausage since they are double baked like unflavored biscotti. You know what?  They are right, the sausage was very juicy as promised without tasting bready at all.  Huzzah!

The plate is stuffed to the gills –– that is what I think of when I think of a Full English.  It's rich and abundant and terribly satisfying when you have a full day ahead of you. Since there are so many elements, I think this would be good to expand for a crowd since the work is nearly the same. Those Effortless Genius eggs are divine by the way and nearly as rich as Alice B Toklas Eggs Picabia ––  my only regret was that I forgot to put the bacon on the plate (as if there was room for it!). Let's pretend it's hidden under the sausage, shall we?

Full English for 2

Effortless Genius Eggs

Fried bread

Baked bean stuffed sausage

Bacon (English bacon is like American Canadian Bacon)

White Sausage or pudding (recipe HERE)

Sautéed tomatoes

Fried Mushrooms

Fried Potatoes

Put the eggs on the bread. Lay the bacon and stuffed sausage on the plate. Add the tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms and serve.

Effortless Genius for 2 (from the Breakfast Bible)

5 large eggs
2 T milk or cream
2 T unsalted butter.
S & P to taste

Break eggs into a bowl but don’t beat them, just add the milk. Melt 2/3 of the butter in a pan on gentle heat. When butter is melted, pour in the eggs and stir, ensuring all the egg yolks break early in the process. Keep stirring and monitoring the mix as it thickens. When the egg whites are just about hardened, stir in the remaining butter. Serve nude or laced with chipped flat-leaf parsley

Fried Bread

2 slices country bread

 Butter the bread and place in the pan and brown 1 side. Turn and brown the other side.

Fried tomatoes

1 or 2 tomatoes
pinch of salt and pepper
1 T butter

Slice the tomatoes in half and sauté in the butter for a few minutes on medium heat. Cover and cook on low heat for a few more minutes

Fried Mushrooms

1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 T butter
pinch of salt and pepper
pinch of thyme
Splash of sherry or madeira

Saute the mushrooms in butter until browned. Sprinkle with salt pepper and thyme and splash the wine. Stir and serve

Fried Potatoes

1 small potatoes, sliced
1 T butter

Melt the butter. Lay the potatoes in the pan and , sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat until done.

Baked Bean Stuffed Sausage, makes 4 (enough for 8 with all the other things if you ask me)

4 rounds of sausage
½ c baked beans (if they are canned, reduce the liquid in the beans)

Take the beans and divide them among the 4 rounds of sausage –– around 1 1/2 to 2 T each. Gently enclose the beans with the sausage.

Heat a skillet (cast iron is good for this) and fry the stuffed sausage on a medium low heat until browned on both sides and cooked through.  Slice to serve or serve whole.

Sausage (makes 4 stuffed patties)

¼ lb fatty pork like pork belly, ground (a food processor can do this if you don’t have a grinder)
3 T rusk crumbs* or breadcrumbs
1 t salt
½ t pepper
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t mace
¼ t coriander
generous pinch each of sage, marjoram (chopped fresh should be 2 generous pinches) generous pinch of cayenne pepper
¾ lb ground pork
1 ice cube, smashed

Combine all the ingredients save the ground pork and ice in food processer and pulse a few times to blend.  Add the pork and ice and pulse to blend.  Take a small piece and fry to taste for seasonings (this is such an important sausage step, you can’t add or subtract spice successfully after everything is made). When you are happy, form the sausage into 4 large circles about hand size. Make the outer edges thinner than the middle since you are folding the meat over the beans.

*Rusk (based on a recipe from The Paupered Chef )

2 c flour
½ t teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons Double Acting Baking Powder (I used regular baking powder)
3½ ounces water

Preheat the oven to 450º. Meanwhile, sieve all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Add the water and use your hands to form it into a dough.

Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2" thick. Put butter a baking sheet just the size of the dough.  Transfer it to the baking sheet. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet, cut the dough into 1/2" inch strips. Set each strip on its side. Lower the heat to 375º and then return the pan to the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. If the bread is nice and firm, remove and set aside. If it is still soft, then flip all the strips and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so. Leave it out to dry, uncovered for a few hours or overnight.

Break them up and put the pieces in the food processor –– let 'er rip.  Making crumbs of this took a bit of doing.  I sort of processed then sifted and processed again.  I ended up with 2 varieties of rusk crumbs.  One was powdery (I used that for the recipe) the other was in small hard crumbs that I'm going to try in a meat loaf or on another batch of sausage to see the difference

My favorite Baked Beans (this is plenty for 6 breakfasts)

1 c beans (soaked overnight in water with 1 t baking soda)
1 strip bacon
¼ c chopped onion
1 T brown sugar
1 T molasses
2 T dark rum
2 T maple syrup
1 t salt
½ t pepper
¼ t allspice
2 cloves
2 small or 1 large dried date, chopped
1 t dry mustard
½ c tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes *
1 T cider vinegar

Strain the beans. Sauté bacon till crisp and remove, then add the onion and sauté till onion is soft. Cover beans with water (around 2 c) and cook until they are soft, about one hour. Check the liquid levels while cooking. Drain, reserving some liquid.

Preheat the oven to 300º

Combine the beans and the rest of the ingredients (including the onion and bacon with or without the cooking fat) in an ovenproof pot with a lid. If the mixture looks dry, add a bit of the cooking liquid. If it is not tight fitting, place a piece of foil between the lid and the pot. Cook for 4-5 hours. Check from time to time and add liquid. * I often have extra tomato sauce standing by to add with the bean liquid if it’s dry.

See the Creative Cooking Crew Pinterest Board HERE
and the round up HERE

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I am going to be on a tight schedule writing my first article so will be on a working vacation from the blog for a few weeks.  I'll be back with lots of great English houses and recipes.  Enjoy the summer!


Diane said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic stay over, will keep the place in mind if we should ever go that way. As for the recipes, I have bookmarked the page, they sound fantastic. Yes breakfast 3 times a day sound the way to go :-)

Good luck with the article and all the very best Diane

La Table De Nana said...

What a great place..I look at the rooms and see our dining room set in a place like that:) My grandfathers chambers set..:)
Love the pot your freind made you..that is so YOU..
I think I heard about that book does look interesting..My breakfasts are very light..apparently it should be your largest meal:)
I've never seen rhum and tomatoes in any of the baked beans I amke..I may have to try yours! So interesting..I bet many will be licking the screen at your breakfast!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Wow! This looks like a fabulous place to stay! I have not been to the Peal District yet but it is on my list.

Thanks for sharing all of your information.

Good luck on your article!

Faith said...

What a wonderful vacation this must have been! An English breakfast is truly something to behold and you've definitely done it justice here...what a great contribution to the challenge!

Unknown said...

bean-stuffed sausage? yum. this is my kind of breakfast too, love the place that inspired it!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

eagerly await your return. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I frequently have it for dinner too ;-) This inn is SO charming, I can't believe you ever left! haha

Sarah said...

Lucky you. I love Engand and haven't been in a long time. I checked the price on that lovely inn and it is great. That was a good find. That breakfast would keep me through the day. Looks delicious.

Ken Albala said...

A PERFECT thing to read this morning while eating my, alas, California Breakfast. Now I know why you sent me that picture. I was perplexed. Lovely post, maybe I can make another breakfast now.

Marjie said...

The place you stayed looks very inviting indeed; I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Yours sounds like a wonderful breakfast; I should try fried bread with my English Muffin Bread. Have a good rest of the summer.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

GOOD MORNING DEANA! I am on the run this morning, but I had to come by to say hello; what do I find here but an enchanting stroll through an ethereal place that serves up the BEST FOOD. CIAO MY FRIEND! Anita

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a beautiful place! I can understand how you would want to return again. What a beautiful, paneled dining room and perfect setting for a full English breakfast.

What a wonderful job you did recreating it at home, right down to the pewter plate and dark paneled wood.

Karina A. Fogliani-Ahmed said...

I'd add some boudin noir to this and it will be complete.

Carole said...

Lovely Deana! I couldn't have it every day but a Full English now and then is always great! Cheers

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That's so interesting about the use of rusks because I used to say that I loved English sausages the most. I wonder if they used rusks instead of breadcrumbs? :D

pam said...

Now that's my idea of breakfast. That Inn looks lovely, I would love to have a meal at that fabulous table!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Mmmm....this looks good enough for an autumn dinner! Deana, thank you for coming to visit me. Yes, doesn't light cast so many different types of shadows, memories? What would we do without light, or darkness for that matter? I really appreciate you visiting me; I am currently taking a poetry class that is doing this: it's showing me I'm not a writer. BUT that's O.K. I will keep trying until I am one.


El said...

That's the prettiest English breakfast I've ever seen. I'm glad you got a chance to escape across the pond for a bit. The place you stayed looks lovely!

Barbara said...

Love the photos! Manor House Farm looks a delight.
Baked beans for breakfast always has amused me...and when asked (at a country home we stayed at years ago) what I'd like for breakfast, I said scones, they looked at me like I was crazy. Scones are served for tea, not breakfast! Those Americans! :)
Still, I got scones with my breakfast the next morning!

Victoria said...

Wow, this is such a decadent breakfast! I love that all the components are made from scratch. When I imagine an English breakfast, this is exactly what comes to mind :)

Joan Nova said...

Well that's a breakfast that would have me full for the day -- or two!

Jennifer Kendall said...

this breakfast sounds absolutely, positively delicious and satisfying! I wish I could dig right in! said...

Always a tasty dish and a wonderful story. I do look forward to your posts.

Sarah | The Sugar Hit said...

I adore a full Englsh breakfast, and I love the idea of bean stuffed sausages! You've convinced me on that book too.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Better late then never to comment! Beatiful place and wow on the breakfast. They are the best in Englnd for that. Love how you stuffed the sausage wit yummy beans.

Erica said...

What a wonderful place! And the breakfast looks fantastic!

Frank said...

One of my fantasy vacations has always been a trip around the English countryside to visit the stately homes. But the thought of driving a stick shift on the left side of the road is really intimidating... One day, perhaps! All I've seen of England is London, which is great fun but the countryside just seems ravishingly beautiful.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dearest Deana,

I just know your heart lives in England, as mine lives in France. BUT! I know that if I stepped foot on the UK, I would fall in love, yet leaving another piece of myself there. Summer was fabulous here, though I didn't travel any farther than my home state of California. But rejuvenation was part of my summer and that is all I ever want. Thank you my dear for coming to visit! Anita

Laura Albini said...

Lovely recipes and it's all easy to prepare I hope.