I have not spoken to a single Cornish person, older than myself [66!!] who has not eaten and enjoyed Raw Fry. A staple in the diets of bygone Cornish folk, miners, fisherfolk and farmers alike, second only to a pasty. But everyone I have spoken to, has a slightly differing version. My husband remembered his mother using potato and swede, a friend from Stithians, Joyce, says her mother only used potato and onion…. and so it goes on. My good friend Jeny says that her mother always used a shortcrust topping, placing it in a hot oven for about fifteen minutes before serving. But they all agreed you start off with bacon. Of one thing I am sure - there are as many slight variations as there are villages and towns in Cornwall! Well, almost. Raw Fry has been cooked for centuries, but I do not think I had ever tried it. My mother, although born in Cornwall was brought up in Plymouth and did not return to live, until her marriage in 1947. I set about trying to re-create the best Raw Fry I could! I was determined not to Post until I was happy with the final result. One thing I found out right away - it is much nicer with swede! Then there is the problem with our “modern” bacon. Injected with water to boost the size and the makers profits. The average bacon slice is 13% water. As soon as you chop and start to fry, the water is released and it ends up boiling instead. So I used best quality smoked Lardons instead or you could use pancetta!!!!
Take:A half pack of smoked Lardons of bacon. [I used Lidl - very good, long chunky bits]. A finely chopped medium onion or large Shallot [I used shallot]. Swede and Potato in equal quantities. Poached or fried egg to finish. Some herbs of your choice perhaps and finally plenty of good seasoning.
Chip the veg as you would do for a pasty, the swede smaller than the potato. Take a small to medium fry pan and heat it up. Fry the bacon and after a little while add the onion, then the swede. Cook for a few minutes. Put the kettle on for boiling water. If there is not a lot of fat, add a little lard [or oil]. Now put in the chipped potato and stir, making sure everything is cover with the fat. [here is where I sprinkled in a very small amount of vegetable bouillon, but the ancients would not have had that]. Season well with sea salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Keep the pan on high and pour over some boiling water until it is within half an inch from the top of the veg and bubbling like mad. [be careful, it will spit]. After a half a minute turn the heat right down and cover. I used a round of foil, loosely scrunched. Simmer gently until vegetables are soft. The swede and potato will look the same colour as when they first went in the fry pan, giving rise to the name of the dish - Raw Fry [or so I have been told]. Top with a poached egg. My final effort was very good and I really enjoyed eating it for my lunch. A very quick meal, handy for knocking up when you come home from the mines and fields. If some folk were not lovers of bacon, small thin strips of skirt was used instead. I would also imagine some would add chopped parsley or other readily available herbs, like chives as I did. I just went outside my back door and picked some.