I’m a bit miffed to only be trying parmo now. My Dad’s from Newcastle, so I’d have hoped he would have introduced me to this specialty dish from North East England earlier in my lifetime. I’ve been raised listening to Bruce Springsteen and appreciating burgers, but my dad sadly let me down in the parmo department.
For those that aren’t familiar with it, parmo is a dish typical to the North East, more towards Middlesbrough/Teeside. Put simply, parmo is breaded chicken or pork, topped with white bechamel sauce and smothered in cheddar cheese, which is then baked so that all the ingredients melt and ooze together. In Middlesbrough, Darlington and Hartlepool it’s typically served with chips, a bit of salad (like the kebab style salad), and a tub of garlic sauce. I think I’m naturally intrigued by parmo because it’s THE dish to have after a night out, and I am prone to a late night kebab or pizza. However in Middlesbrough, you have parmo served in a card board pizza box. Wow.
|Parmo where have you been all my life|
|A typical parmo meal|
I was only recently alerted to the existence of parmo, when watching Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on the TV show Sunday Brunch. They were interviewing former X Factor contestant Amelia Lily, a ‘borough lass, and they had prepared a parmo for her. My ears pricked up when Amelia started explaining to viewers what parmo consists of. Saucy breaded chicken and cheese!? Sounds heavenly.
From then on, I became more than a little parmo obsessed, and vowed to try this dish. I started a one way love affair with @loveparmo on twitter – lusting after the instragrammed parmo pics, tweeted to lure in food obsessed people like me. I did some research and discovered that despite the abundance of burgers, fried chicken and noodle bars in London, there is nowhere in this darn city to eat parmo!
I can’t think why, but Middlesbrough doesn’t appeal for a weekend break (I’ll make an exception if Springsteen is playing), so the only choice I had was to make parmo myself.
Now Burgers and Bruce isn’t typically a space for me to share recipes, I’m more about eating out than writing about how to cook. Thankfully, @loveparmo alerted me to this helpful step by step guide to parmo from blogger Porkhampton. He’s from Manchester, so like me, he is a bit parmo deprived. I warned him that his parmo recipe was just a bit too much faff for me, so he kindly put together a simpler version, which if you’re craving a quick parmo, I really recommend.
So off I went and created a poshed up Londoner’s version of parmo. Without trying an original version from Middlesbrough, I guess I don’t have much to compare it to, but I think I’ve created something pretty blooming special here.
Not any old chicken or pork will do, and if you can’t be bothered to flatten and bread the meat yourself then I would recommend buying some. I opted for Marks and Spencer’s breaded chicken fillets; Bernard Matthews options are blatantly made of horse.
I then made the bechamel sauce and slathered this over the chicken before grating on a lot of cheddar cheese.
At the same time I got my chips ready (McCains fries – to balance out the extravagance of the Marks & Spencer breaded chicken fillets) and I also made my garlic sauce.
The end result was spectacular.
A little bit of me wished I’d been able to eat it out of a cardboard box like they do in Middlesbrough, but I only had my white china. I had to have a dribble of balsamic on my salad (this is posh parmo after all) and I also had a dollop of The Rib Man’s holy fuck chili sauce on the side which was excellent with all the melted cheese.
Parmo comes in loads of different varieties, but for my first experience I wanted to keep it simple. Next time I might try it with mushrooms, and there’s also parmo pizza! The clever people of Hartlepool have also created a ‘parmo wrap’ – a parmo tucked inside a large naan bread, squirted with garlic sauce. That must be really handy when you can’t decide between a kebab or a parmo.
With all the new food spots opening and street food scene in London, I’m shocked (and frankly appalled) that there’s no parmo establishment in this huge city. Admittedly it isn’t a meal for every day of the week (I won’t dwell on the nutritional value), but it is one that everyone should try.
I’ve now developed a worrying passion for parmo.