My aunt’s birthday falls on the 27th December and as a surprise her immediate family had planned a return to a childhood holiday home deep in the valleys of the Northern Lakes. The fact that it was December and had no electricity or running water did not deter us. I designed the menu, packed up the picnic baskets (waterproof) and set off from Newcastle laden with potted fish, pickles, terrines, homemade breads, a delicious sticky ginger cake and the Pièce de résistance, the Shooter’s Sandwich...
An early 20th century shooting lodge made of corrugated iron and timber, no electricity, water or lights, at the head of a deserted valley in a gale, an ideal picnic spot, and a pretty exciting one at that. Once the fire was on, glasses in hand and the indoor picnic laid out we were all set... the rain and wind battered us from the outside, noisy and insistent, but it was a unique picnic lunch I will remember for a long time.
To make the Shooter’s Sandwich you will need a large round crusty cob loaf or similar, 2 steaks, I used rib eye, 500g of mushrooms and 200g shallots, some garlic, a splash of brandy and Worchester sauce, some horseradish and Dijon mustard. I followed a Tim Hayward recipe this time, but am already geared up to free style it next time...
Slice a ‘lid’ off the top of the loaf and hollow out the centre, I kept the middle and froze it to use for breadcrumbs at some point. Finely chop the mushrooms and onions and sweat them in about 75g of butter until they are tasty and soft and have lost most of their moisture. Season with salt and pepper, some grated garlic, a shot of brandy and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.
Season the steaks and get a frying pan very hot; I cooked mine for 2 minutes each side, possibly a touch less, and they were medium rare, you want them to be on the pink side.
Then quickly assemble the sandwich, no resting required. Put the first steak into the bottom of the loaf; add all the mushroom mix, packing it into all the nooks and crannies, then the next steak on top. Spread the top of this steak with horseradish and spread the inside of the loaf lid with Dijon mustard. Pop it back on and then wrap the whole thing up in greaseproof paper tightly. Secure with four lengths of string and finally place between two boards, with some heavy pans or weights on top and press overnight.
To serve, cut the Shooters Sandwich into wedges still in its paper, along with some piccalilli or a good mustard, and a full winter picnic if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s delicious; the mushroom mix is so tasty with rich meat and sharp hot horseradish and mustard. Bring on the next picnic, rain or shine. I’d use a crustier loaf next time, this one was a little soft and I might also add a layer of horseradish to the base as I love it so much. This is the classic version, if you Google it there are many more, I’m going to stay away from the Parmo version, that’s a step too far... but a vegetarian one with pesto, mozzarella, roast peppers, aubergines and basil looked delicious.