Think big, think Barnsley chop

Desperate Dan would have liked it

THERE is more than one way of cooking the famous Barnsley Chop, that almost joint-sized Siamese Twin of a chop cut across the saddle, but the best way is how they used to do it at the equally famous but now long gone Brooklands Hotel.

It was basically a casserole, cooked slow and low for a couple of hours in what was essentially a Cumberland Sauce- enriched gravy until the fat dissolves into an unctuous broth, the meat so tender you could slice it with a butter knife.

In its heyday, and I’m thinking of the Eighties, it was owned and run by an eccentric character called James Grattan, who used to patrol the car park sizing up the wealth of his clients.

They could spend a bob ot two. It was the haunt of newspaper editors from nationals and regionalsacross the North who would explore the more expensive reaches of the restaurant’s impressive wine list.

I visited only once for a review- naturally I had the Barnsley Chop – like the editors on expenses. My wine choice was more modest.

I recall ( and I don’t think I dreamt this ) an intimidating sign in the bar saying restaurant reviewers were unwelcome here. And failing to equate the conspicuous consumption with the tins of peaches on the desserts trolley, more a sideboard.

From time to time I like to recreate this Desperate Dan of a dish at home and I’ll tell you how. I am not saying it is completely authentic but the spirit is there. And I have added a few embellishments.

I made it the other day after seeing some chops at Roneys on Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield, not quite as gargantuan as those at Brooklands but meaty and big enough.

I heated a tablespoon or two of oil in a casserole on the hob and set the oven to 150C. I briskly browned the chops on both sides, including the fat on the edge, then removed them, lowered the heat and fried a chopped onion and couple of cloves of garlic.

As the onion cooked I added more aromatics: a thickly chopped carrot, chopped stalk of celery, some bay leaves, sprig of rosemary and a teaspoon or two of dried mint.

After some five minutes I added 300mls each of red wine and chicken stock, a dessertspoon of redcurrant jelly ( the principal component of Cumberland Sauce, I didn’t bother with the orange), replaced the chops on the vegetables, put on the lid and put it in the oven.

This takes about two hours but check after 90 minutes that the gravy hasn’t reduced too much, particularly if the lid is not a tight fit.

Some writers suggest thickening with cornflower towards the end but I let it reduce naturally. I added some peas and cherry tomatoes towards the end for colour.

I forget how it was served at Brooklands, provably with mash to soak up the truly excellent minty gravy.

This dish was even reviewed in the New York Times which quoted Grattan as saying they liked things big in Barnsley or, as he put it, ” some mass on the plate. “

Peas and tomato added colour
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