Harvest bites: Hearty food to fuel farmworkers

It’s that time of year when many of us are out in the tractor or combine for long hours, trying to stay sane and awake.

For the past few harvests, I have been chief takeaway delivery girl, taking 12 pizzas or portions of fish and chips to dark fields at 10pm.

Everyone who is working needs food to keep them going throughout the day (and even night). Sometimes they have to eat all three square meals behind the wheel.

See also: Sticky marinade sausages

A bread made with a good quantity of oil stops it from drying out easily, while adding bacon and potatoes makes it into something of a meal in itself.

The sausage roll is hearty and filling, robust farm-style food.

Finally, if you can make it home for dinner, there’s a butterflied lamb leg in a white wine and soy marinade – great for the barbecue or the grill.

Ham hock sausage roll

Ham hock sausage roll

©Jonathan Page

Serves 4

Preparation time 4 hours 

Cooking time 25 minutes


1 ham hock

1 carrot, peeled and halved

2 sticks celery, halved

1 onion, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

5 black peppercorns

For the sausage roll

250g of the ham hock

100g peas

5 spring onions finely chopped

1 shallot finely chopped

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1 pinch salt

1 egg beaten

1 tbsp non-pareil capers

1 tbsp finely chopped gherkin

1 pack puff pastry 

  1. Put the ham hock in a big enough pan, with the carrot, celery, onion, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring to the boil.
  2. As the ham starts to boil, drop the water to a simmer, skim the top regularly, and cook for about 3 hours until the ham is cooked and will fall off the bone.
  3. When the ham has cooled, cut it off the bone, and chop 250g into 1cm chunks. Put in a bowl with the peas, spring onions, shallot, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, and all the egg except 1 tbsp, and mix together.
  4. Take 4-5 tbsp of the mix and put it into a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped and starting to resemble sausagemeat. Back in the bowl, combine it thoroughly with the mix that it came from so that it starts to hold together.
  5. Roll out the puff pastry to a rectangle approx. 40×20 cm. Place the ham mixture in a line lengthways along the pastry, just off centre. Sprinkle the capers and gherkin along the top of the mixture and then roll the wider side of the pastry over the meat, and use the leftover egg to brush the pastry and seal it together.
  6. Brush the top of the sausage roll with the egg wash, and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Bacon and potato bread

Bacon and potato bread

Serves 6

Preparation time 2 hours

Cooking time 30 minutes


For the dough

500g bread flour 

2 tsp salt

6g fast-action yeast

½ tsp caster sugar

45ml olive oil

275ml lukewarm water 

For the topping

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

100g bacon, chopped to slivers

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tsp caraway seeds

250g new potatoes, parboiled and chopped to 1cm chunks

1 sprig rosemary

1 tsp salt

  1. Mix together the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add the oil and stir through. Add the lukewarm water, and bring together, then turn the mixture on to a floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is silky.
  2. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave until it has doubled in size – this will take at least an hour depending on temperature. (The dough improves if it is left to prove overnight in the fridge.)
  3. Knock the dough back, and place in a tray, pressing it down so that it is about 2cm thick, in whatever shape you like.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over a medium heat, and fry the bacon for 1 minute, adding the onion after 1 minute, and fry until the onion is soft. Then add the caraway seeds and fry for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook for 2 minutes to coat in the bacon and oil.
  5. Turn the heat off and pour the bacon and potato mixture over the bread, spreading evenly and pressing down into the dough. Add another pinch of sea salt, and sprinkle over the leaves from the rosemary sprig.
  6. Heat the oven to 210C, and bake the bread for 20-25 minutes until it is golden brown, and risen slightly. Remove from the oven and drizzle over some more olive oil to taste. 

White wine and soy butterflied lamb leg

Butterflied leg of lamb

©Jonathan Page

Serves 6-8

Preparation time 2 hours

Cooking time 30-40 minutes


1 leg of lamb

3 tbsp dry white wine

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp Mirin or Shaoxing rice wine 

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic crushed

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

A few drops of tabasco

TIP Removing the bone and butterflying the joint is a good way to speed up your cooking, and especially if you want to barbecue your lamb.

  1. Take the lamb leg and remove the bone. To do this, start at the bone that you can see, and use the knife to make an incision through the meat to the bone, down the length of the bone. Then, using a small paring knife, you need to keep the knife close to the bone, and use little scraping movements so as not to waste the meat. Cut around the bone until it is loose and can be removed. Open out the meat, and then slice the thick part open like a book – not all the way through, but so you can fold it out again. Trim all the sinew and fat. 
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a bowl, and submerge the lamb in the sauce. Leave the lamb in for an hour, or overnight if you want to impart good flavour. Remember that marinades always smell and taste strong, but the remaining flavour on the meat will be greatly removed when it has been thinly spread and cooked off.
  3. Heat a grill to medium/high and cook the meat to your liking.
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