The culinary world is awash with misnomers; from Welsh rarebit, Bombay duck and sweetbreads to moreish French fries – they all appear to be something they’re not. Or rather, their names leave us expecting something very different.
Similarly, the humble vegetable roll – a delicacy unique to Northern Ireland – suggests something far more ‘green’ than the tasty meat-filled parcel it is.
While the origin of the vegetable roll can’t be confirmed, few can remember a time without the beef sausage parcel and no homemade Ulster Fry is complete without it.
Hull’s – the number one supplier of vegetable roll in Northern Ireland – has been making the savoury treat since 1954 but places its origins well before that.
The likelihood is that it became a staple following the war years, when beef became plentiful again and rationing was but a distant memory.
Vegetable roll, designed like an overgrown sausage, is made with beef and is lightly seasoned with herbs and usually spring onions.
Alan McKeown at Hull’s said: “Tasty fayre made simple is the best way to sum it up. The original recipe beloved and known by all doesn’t call for much change. In fact, vegetable roll hasn’t changed at all since apart from a slight modernisation here and there, as required by new food legislation directives.”
And for a 70+ years recipe, it’s certainly stood the test of time. More than half a million retail packs are sold by Hull’s every year and its popularity is evidenced by the double digit growth it has enjoyed for the past three years.
So the only question remains – how do the people of Northern Ireland eat theirs?
If bought from a supermarket, the likelihood is that it’s already sliced and so, the biggest decision anyone will have when they get back to the house is whether to fry or grill it.
The most common use for vegetable roll is as part of the good ole’ Ulster Fry however this versatile product is often used for dinners, served with mashed potato and beans.
Alan McKeown, Hull’s continued:
“Our vegetable roll is made from a blend of the finest beef produce and carefully selected spices for a full rich flavour –people in Northern Ireland can’t get enough of it.”
Vegetable roll is certainly no friend to vegetarians so how in this age of strict food labelling do we get away with still calling it this?