We are talking “serious” condiment! These distinctive bottles have been an indispensible addition to tables of greasy spoon cafes all over Britain and beyond. They have been gracing homes where the tangy taste made bland food more appetising. The sauce has garnished innumerable cheese sandwiches and made the perfect accompaniment to meat pies at football matches.
The author, Paul Hartley, has a wealth of experience in the food industry. He has run a European-style café-bar in London and an award-winning country pub in Somerset. He is a major contributor to Breakfastandbrunch.com. Paul also has a clutch of other store-cupboard cookbooks to his name.
HP sauce has been around in its present form since the turn of the century… the previous one, that is. The British Houses of Parliament have always had pride of place on the label. A bottle of the celebrated sauce was spotted in that building and so the name was adopted: “H”ouses of “P”arliament. Short, to the point, memorable, and iconic.
This flavourful sauce was the element that was said to have made the unvarying menu of “bully beef” palatable for the First World War troops. The label, at that time, was in French as well as English. It was rumoured that it was in French because so much of the sauce was shipped to France; or that it showed solidarity with our French allies. Truth was that the manufacturers thought it made the sauce seem upmarket and posh.
The HP Sauce Cookbook is a history but it’s also, as the title suggests, a cookbook and the dishes are savoury, comforting and warming. Slow-cooked Barbecue Pork Belly is going to be a regular on many BBQ’s this summer. OK, so the marinade uses Coca-Cola and that might raise a few eyebrows, but remember that it contains lots of sugar to help caramelise the meat, plus flavourings, and it is a common ingredient in American kitchens. HP sauce is used to good effect to produce a tangy glaze.
Paul has a Brunch Wrap that will be popular with weekend guests. It’s an ideal dish for those days when time is at a premium but you still want to spoil people. Make the filling the night before and make the wraps in the morning. Great for any lover of an English breakfast. This is like “the full Monty” in pastry.
I must admit, dear reader, that I would not choose HP for my fish and chips as promoted in this book. I am a dedicated tomato ketchup girl and that won’t change. But I could never make a Welsh Rarebit without a good dose of HP. It’s a classic snack which you could describe as an elevated cheese on toast. Buy the best cheese and bread, and success is assured.
The HP Sauce Cookbook is a book full of nostalgia but also contemporary recipes. There can be few in the UK who have not tried this sauce but it might come as a pleasant surprise to overseas cooks. Try it and you’ll find it to be a handy addition to your larder. The book will give you pointers to make the best of this British staple. Enjoy!
The HP Sauce Cookbook
Author: Paul Hartley
Published by: Absolute Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018