Islanders celebrate their local food every day.
Traditional recipes, handed down through generations of Guernsey families, are not confined to museums and history books, they are served up by families week in, week out.
The Bean Jar is Guernsey’s traditional one pot meal. Made at home, the pot was then taken to the local bakers where it would be slow-cooked overnight in the bottom of the oven. It was collected at dawn and traditionally eaten by fisherman as a hearty breakfast before they headed out to sea. Each family has a different variation but traditionally it was made with pig’s trotter.
No cuppa is complete without a slice of toasted Guernsey Gache with lashings of yellow Guernsey butter, or even richer Sark butter. Served at beach kiosks and cafes, the island’s favourite fruit loaf, pronounced ‘Gosh’, can leave visitors tongue-tied. Watch out too for Gâche Melée, a delicious local apple cake.
The Bailiwick is well-known for the quality of its seafood Chancre and spider crab are both abundance in local waters, along with fresh water fish, lobster and scallops.
Try some Guernsey Recipes at home! Of course, any Guernsey products can be substitued for your own local ingredients but please bear in mind that the resulting dish may not taste quite as good...
Bean Jar recipe
(Guernsey French: enne Jarraie d'Haricaots)
1 lb haricot beans
1 lb butter beans
1 lb belly pork
1 lb onions
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1) Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Discard the water. Put beans in fresh water and boil for at least 30 minuets.
2) Add pork, chopped onions and stock cube and boil for a further 20 minutes.
3) Place in a low to medium oven for a minimum of three to four hours or a slow cooker.
4) Beans should be soft and the meat should fall off the bone. Enjoy with a thick slice of farmhouse bread and Guernsey butter.
With thanks to Rachel Torode for supplying this recipe.
Gâche Mélée (pronounced Gosh Mel - are)
Gâche Mélée is a traditional Guernsey apple dessert and a favourite with locals. Gâche Mélée is particularly good in the autumn when the nights are becoming colder and darker and the apples are freshly picked. It is great eaten hot or cold and with a dollop of Guernsey cream or custard.
½ lb plain flour
¼ lb suet or Guernsey Butter
1½ lb apples, peeled, cored and chopped
½ lb demerara sugar
¼ tsp of nutmeg
¼ tsp of cinnamon
¼ tsp of mixed spice
½ teacup of water
1 tsp salt
1 free-range egg
1) Rub the butter or suet into the flour until like breadcrumbs. Add all other dry ingredients, apple and mix well.
2) Add the egg and water and again mix well.
3) Place in a 7-inch (18cm) square tin.
4) Cook in a low oven for 2 hours until golden brown.
Tip: Prior to making this dessert all dry ingredients and apple can be mixed together and stood in the fridge to improve the flavour. Also, why not keep back some sugar to sprinkle on top prior to cooking – this makes a crunchier top.
Guernsey chancre crab and fresh Guernsey herb cakes
Serves 4 as a main course / 8 as a starter
For the cakes:
400g new potatoes
250g white crab meat
200g brown crab meat
15g chopped parsley
15g chopped chive
30g chopped coriander
30g chopped basil
10g tomato ketchup
Salt and pepper
100g plain flour
250ml Guernsey milk
1 free range egg
For the dressing:
1 fresh chilli pepper
375ml rice vinegar
125g granulated sugar
Juice of one lime
1) Wash the new potatoes and simmer gently in seasoned water until tender. Remove from the heat and refresh under cold water, drain the potatoes well and lightly crush with a fork, set aside.
2) Pass the brown crab meat through a fine mesh sieve to remove any traces of shell. Pick through the white crab meat to ensure all traces of shell are removed.
3) Bind together the crushed new potatoes, brown and white crab meat, tomato ketchup and chopped fresh Guernsey herbs, season with salt and pepper to taste.
4) Divide the mixture into eight Pattie shapes or spoon into a 7cm diameter pastry ring and repeat until all the mixture is used.
5) Place in a refrigerator until firm. Once the crab cakes are firm, coat them with seasoned plain flour, followed by dipping each one in a mixture of beaten egg and milk. Finally roll in fine breadcrumbs, re-shape with a palette knife to make the cakes all uniform.
6) Gently fry each cake in a generous amount of Guernsey butter, turning each over as necessary. Heat through in a moderate oven before serving with chilli dressing and a salad of Fresh Guernsey Herbs.
For the chilli dressing:
Finely chop the chilli pepper and place with the rice vinegar and sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture
has reduced to thin syrup, remove from heat and add lime juice.
Serve with a salad of fresh Guernsey herbs.
One of Guernsey’s best-known delicacies is the Ormer, a kind of shellfish that can only be harvested for a few days every year. There are many ways to serve ormers, and they are delicious just floured, fried and seasoned, but this casserole is one of the most popular methods.
Ormers (as many as possible)
2 strips of belly pork
Two bay leaves
1) Soak the ormers for roughly an hour in cold water.
2) Remove them from their shells and scrub and trim off the black parts.
3) Gently beat them with a mallet until flattened.
4) Melt some Guernsey butter in a pan.
5) Cover the ormers with flour, they fry in the butter.
6) Cut belly pork into cubes, and slice the carrots and shallots.
7) Place ormers, pork, vegetables and bay leaves in a casserole dish, and season with salt and pepper.
8) Cook for 2 hours at 170°C in the oven.
9) Reduce heat and allow to simmer.
10) Serve with a buttered Guernsey biscuit or crusty bread.