National Hardo Bread, a Tradition of Excellence
The roll-out of hardo bread at National Baking Company

There's nothing quite like hardo bread straight out of the oven and slathered with butter. Add pan/jerk, chicken, bully beef, callaloo or guava jelly and you've got a meal fit for royalty. Black, green and gold royalty, that is! The hardo bread that's being unwrapped is National, Giant, easily spotted because of its signature red and white check and bold blue font. The pre-sliced bread has found favour with many, save those who prefer to tear the bread and remain oblivious to the amount of bread they are consuming!

It makes perfect sense for National Baking Company, home of the National Hardo Bread, in this its 70th year and inextricably linked to the Jamaican psyche, to join hands with the nation on its 60th year of Independence.

Thursday Food, like the rest of The Rock, is in a nostalgic mood but is cognisant that for companies to survive and thrive they must remain relevant. Thankfully, the global focus is on simple and traditional.

No better person than Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards multi-award winning caterer Alexa von Strolley to fuse tradition with the modern, using slices of hardo bread and pulling from customs like dunking bread into morning coffee and topping off authentic jerk with soft, fresh, hardo bread, she's prepared three simple recipes that will tantalise the taste buds during the national festivities. We're hoping, too, that the discussion around the table will include traditional food and the importance of preserving our legacy.

National Baking Company Recipe Corner...

Coffee Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

6 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

3 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp instant coffee

¼ tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp vanilla

1½ loaves National Hardo Bread, in 1 inch cubes

Method:

Preheat oven to 350oF

Whisk together the eggs and brown sugar for 2 minutes, or until fluffy.

Combine milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, instant coffee, salt and vanilla.

Add milk mixture to eggs and whisk to combine into a custard.

Add bread cubes to the custard, stir and gently press down ensuring the bread soaks

up the custard. Leave to sit for 5 minutes.

Butter a 9x9 baking dish, fill the dish with the bread mixture, press down, and allow to

sit for 15 minutes before baking.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserted comes out clean and the custard starts pulling away from the sides.

Pan chicken served with hardo bread

Ingredients:

1 half-chicken, quartered

¼ cup vinegar

2 tbsp jerk seasoning, hot and spicy

1 Maggi bouillon cube, onion and garlic

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 slices National Hardo Bread

Ketchup and hot sauce for serving

2 tbsp avocado oil

Method:

Light coal and cover grill to preheat.

Brush the grill with avocado oil to prevent sticking.

Brush the chicken with the oil as well and place the chicken skin side down. Then

brush the opposite side of the chicken with oil.

Turn chicken every 2 minutes for the first 10 minutes.

Move the chicken over indirect heat (section with no coal) skin side down flipping every 8 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove from the heat, lather hardo bread with butter, pour on ketchup and hot

sauce and enjoy!

Callaloo Quesadilla

Ingredients:

6 slices National Hardo Bread

6 tbsp butter, salted

¼ tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp Maggi all-purpose

¼ tsp black pepper

1 cup callaloo, shredded

½ yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 stalks scallion, thinly sliced

2 sprigs thyme, minced

1/2 Scotch bonnet, minced

¼ cup water

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup Mexican cheese, shredded

Method:

In a pan over medium high heat, melt 2 tbsp butter and add onion, scallion, Scotch bonnet and thyme to the pot. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the onions become slightly translucent.

Add the callaloo, garlic, salt, all purpose seasoning, and black pepper, stir and cook

for about one minute before adding the water.

Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes.

While the callaloo is steaming, roll out the slices of hardo as thin as you can

manage.

Stamp out rounds using a white bowl or cup, whatever can fit.

Spread 2 tbsp of butter on the 6 slices of bread and top 3 slices evenly with cheese.

When the callaloo has finished steaming, taste and adjust seasoning.

Spoon on the callaloo over the cheese, as little or as much as you'd like.

Top with more cheese and then the other slice of bread butter side down.

Bring the pan back to medium heat, add the remaining butter and oil and fry until golden brown, flipping and covering with a lid to ensure the cheese has melted on the inside. About 3 minutes.

Slice and enjoy.

With coffee, cinnamon and brown sugar inside, this bread pudding is bound to wow even the pickiest 'Jamaican aunty'. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
Who says bread can't be decadent? This coffee bread pudding is perfect for night or day. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
Add nuts, finish with a drizzle of condensed milk and dig into this sweet treat. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
When it comes to Jamaican jerk, its best sidekick is a hardo slice. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
There are few limits when it comes to Jamaican pan chicken —dress it up with hot pepper sauce or make a sandwich worth talking about. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
Alexa Von Strolley's journey into the culinary arts kicked off with craving the quintessential flavours of her childhood in Jamaica, so what better dish to recreate than pan chicken and hardo bread? (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
Popular Red Hills Road 'pan chicken' vendor AndrewJosephs adds National Giant Hardo bread to the jerk chicken.
Leg & thigh quarter served with National Giant Hardo Bread.
Von Strolley suggests pairing the quesadillas with pico de gallo, a mix of ingredients any Jamaican can findin their kitchen, and which isn't too far removed from steamed callaloo and bread (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
Serving up a different kind of treat, hardo bread is flattened for these cheesy callaloo quesadillas. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
These callaloo quesadillas are perfect for an Emancipendence brunch. (Photo: Courtesy of National Baking Company)
Hardo Bread and steam callaloo.
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