I like Sara Cox, history, and food. So when this trifecta of delights recently combined for the BBC2 series Back in Time for Tea, we had to watch.

It followed a family from Bradford as they ate their way through the decades, with a particular emphasis on proper Northern grub. Marc’s from Bradford, so it brought back lots of memories spent at his nan’s house, which he still associates with most of his comfort foods.

During the 1960s episode (I think), we were introduced to panhaggarty. It’s layers of potato, onion and corned beef, baked in the oven – like a pasty, I suppose, but without all the fattening pastry. So a diet food, if you ask me.

It’s super simple, with just five ingredients. I bought pre-sliced corned beef from the refrigerated aisle – a bit of a decadence, but worth it achieve to the square footage I needed in my large oven dish. It’s on a 2-for-£3 deal at ASDA, which I’m fairly sure is a long-term offer. I used 5 white potatoes and one white onion – worth about £1 in total, if that.


Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes


  • 10 slices of thick-cut corned beef
  • 5 white potatoes (peeled if you like – I didn’t bother)
  • 1 white onion
  • Butter
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Thinly slice the potatoes and onions using a sharp knife – get them as thin as possible without causing yourself injury or resorting to a mandolin. Honestly, more trouble than they’re worth.
  2. Place the sliced spuds in water for 5 minutes to remove starch. Meanwhile, break the onion into rings. After 5 minutes, drain the potatoes but don’t pat them dry (the residual water will help create steam to cook them).
  3. Layer first potato, then onion. Dot with butter, season generously (the potatoes can take it), then top with a layer of corned beef.
  4. Do this as many times as you can until you run out of corned beef (I managed three layers), then top with a final layer of potatoes. Again, dot with butter and season.
  5. Cover with foil and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes (or longer if you prefer your cheese to take on a bit more colour).
  7. Rest for 10 minutes before serving with a big bowl of garden peas.

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