A ‘Surrey Smorgasbord’ featuring hop shoots and hop flavoured bread has won our annual hop shoot competition with pub group Red Mist Leisure.
We supplied hop shoots from our hop garden to chefs at five Red Mist pubs and challenged them to develop a new dish using the shoots. The end tips of the shoots were once known as ‘poor man’s asparagus’.
The winning dish was created by Jay Williams, head chef at the group’s Duke of Cambridge pub in Farnham. Jay’s Hop Smørrebrød included rare saddle of lamb served with hop shoots sautéed in beurre noisette, along with salsa verde and marinated anchovies, served on home baked focaccia bread infused with Cascade hops and leavened with brewer’s yeast.
Hop Smørrebrød went on the menu over the Bank Holiday weekend in the pub. Customers sampling the unusual dish were impressed with both its appearance and taste and it was especially popular among a group from the Farnham Beerex festival.
Williams said, “Infusing my bread with Hogs Back hops put the hop flavour right at the heart of the dish. The spicy Cascade hops worked very well with the peppery flavour of the hop shoots, and complemented the lamb beautifully.
“There was plenty of interest in the dish. The Hogs Back Brewery and its hop garden are just a couple of miles down the road from the pub, and our diners were fascinated to be trying a traditional, local ingredient.”
The runners-up prize went to Adam Sullens, head chef at The Queen’s Head in East Clandon, for his Hop Shoot and Parmesan Gnocchi served with locally picked Secretts’ asparagus, wild mushroom Hogs Back Hazy Hog cider sauce, crispy Parma ham & hop shoot dressing.
Both the Fuggles hops which provided the hop shoots and the Cascade hops in Jay’s bread are grown in our 3.5 acre hop garden, adjacent to the brewery in Tongham. Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson said: “Hop growing was once a major part of Surrey’s economy, and hop shoots, or poor man’s asparagus, were a rural delicacy. Having revived the growing tradition with our hop garden, we’re delighted to be working with Red Mist Leisure’s pubs once again to bring back hop shoots as a fresh, local ingredient in great pub food.
“All the recipes were interesting and imaginative, and we particularly liked the hop Smørrebrød because it made the flavour of hops a focus of the dish.”
Mark Robson, co-founder of Red Mist Leisure, said: “The hop shoot competition, now in its third year, brings out the best in our chefs. Our customers love to see local food served on offer in our pubs, and we always encourage them to try it with a local beer from Hogs Back, such as their TEA or Hogstar lager or their Hazy Hog cider.”
In our hop garden, all the hop shoots have now been cut, helping this year’s emerging hop plants to grow strongly and produce a healthy crop for the harvest in September.