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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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.