Try this tasty local delicacy
Cornwall has its pasties, Devon has its scones... Buckinghamshire has its Bacon Badger. Jo-Anne Rowney took part in a taste test to find out more about this forgotten county meal
IAM not the fussiest of eaters but when I saw a recipe for Buckinghamshire Bacon Badger I was left feeling a little queasy and unsure. Luckily the badger in this county delicacy is more a quaint nod to the animal rather than requiring you to actually munch on it.
I was left rather curious, so I began to ask the Buckinghamshire born and bred if they knew what it was.
Some did, and got this nostalgic look in their eyes, others looked at me as if I was barking mad.
The dish seems to originate from the days when people got the scraps from the butcher to create a cheap dish.
It harks back to the days of country estates and cold winters outdoors.
While it was a meal derived from poverty it was revered for its powerful flavour.
I decided we needed some kind of taste test and Raffaele Mercurio from The Greyhound Enoteca, in Beaconsfield, agreed to try the recipe.
His new Italian chef was eager for the challenge, with the added thrill of trying to better our Bucks offering by trying to create an Italian version.
The process, however, is no short task. The suet pastry was made before I arrived, and both fillings were laid before me.
The traditional filling consists of onion, potato and bacon, lots of bacon, and seasoning - here we used sage.
Then we took a look at the challenger. The Italian alternative consisted of salami, and Italian cheeses with pine nuts tossed in. Chef Aldo Marra at work on the Buckinghamshire Bacon Badger
Both badgers were wrapped up and put in the steamer.
“Now we wait,” I was told. Three hours to be precise. I worked away, somewhat impatiently as I was told “Nearly ready, nearly.”
I tweeted out an offer for anyone to pop in if they were around.
Then the time came. The slices were cut away and placed on both plates.
I toyed with blindfolding myself but thought it was a bit late for that. At the bar we offered up the slices. Traditional first. The flavours reminded me of winter home-cooked meals, and it was easy to see why this is a hearty and historical dish for the county.
Then the Italian option. The chef was more keen here as he watched us take a bite.
The salami and cheese gave it a saltier taste, which was wonderful with the suet and potato. It appeared everyone agreed with me.
One of the testers that had popped in off the street said he had never heard of the dish before and had lived in Beaconsfield for three years.
A raised eyebrow and a chew later, and he was sold.
The verdict - a hearty, but maybe not so healthy recipe, that Buckinghamshire can be proud of.
Visit www.getbucks.co.uk for a video of the taste test.
What do you think is the best Buckinghamshire dish? Email your recipes and ideas to jo-anne. firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @JoAnne_Rowney.