Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it cheese on toast!? No, it’s parmo! The dish from Middlesbrough that’ll put hair on your eyebrows.
Aalso called the Teeside Parmesan Treat, it’s a dish that puts KFC to total shame. You didn’t hear it here first! Let’s dive deeper into the batter.
Parmo is a common fast food in Middlesbrough of North Yorkshire.
It’s a breadcrumbed fillet of chicken that’s deep fried and topped off with white béchamel sauce and melted cheddar cheese.
We’d never experienced this before until 2010, when we visited an old university friend in his hometown of Middlesbrough.
Once there, we soon drunkenly sampled the delights of parmo during a late night drunken takeaway order. Champion!
And as you’d expect, this thing isn’t healthy. In 2007, a trading standards survey found a large parmo with chips packed a mighty 2,600 calories.
But it’s still an icon for the region. And it’s the northern way of putting KFC to shame. Take that, Americans!
The History of Parmo
Apparently, the dish was created during WWII by a chef called Nicos Harris.
This gentleman was wounded on France soil and then taken to the UK for a hospital visit. Years later he shifted base to Middlesbrough and opened up a restaurant.
He called it the American Grill. The specific date of his creation is 1958.
Since then it’s become Teeside’s most famous dish. Champion! Kind of like what fish and chips is to other regions, or Manchester Caviar (mushy peas).
A lot of the above information has come about thanks to historian Dr. Tosh Warwick. His book Parmo: The Definitive Guide digs deep into its history.
The news is out! As revealed on @BBCTees, I’m writing the first book on the Parmo!
‘Parmo: The Definitive Guide’ will explore the history of the Teesside delicacy, feature recipes, and look at how the dish has captured the national imagination: https://t.co/t7sFBtcTPn pic.twitter.com/DSDWe1Lkdx
— Dr Tosh Warwick (@Tosh_Warwick) January 13, 2020
Apparently it was set for release in 2020, but that was before all the pandemic stuff kicked off. So we’re not sure if it’s out yet.
As the historian puts it:
“Regardless of the pros and cons of the parmo, it is without doubt the major culinary creation associated with the region and one of the area’s cultural curiosities. Through the World Parmo Championships and extensive media coverage the parmo has helped put the region on the map.”
So, yes, as with other British culinary delights (black pudding included), there’s a total competition to determine the best parmo foodstuff. Hurray!
The World Parmo Championships
This competition gets goddamn competitive. There’s no denying it.
Teeside’s finest parmo creators get together to parmo the hell out of parmo. It’s so spectacularly intense some people have burst into tears in sheer joy.
Check it out in operation, back in 2015.
In 2019, some 30 restaurants battled it out for top honours.
The judges included Mayor Andy Preston, BBC Teeside, and world darts champion Glen Durrant. Proper belting!
Obviously the 2020 event of this didn’t occur, but maybe it’ll be back in the not too distant future.
How to Make Parmo
Right, so you need the chicken for this. Plus the fancy béchamel sauce. We’ll do the latter first! The ingredients you’ll need are:
55 grams of butter
55 grams of plain flour
1 pint of milk
Salt and pepper
For the chicken, you’ll need the following:
1 chicken fillet
1 egg and a splash of milk
Sunflower oil for frying
200 grams of grated cheddar cheese
Follow the instructions in the video above, like, to inject some North Yorkshire cheese and chicken into your lifestyle.
Honest to God, fetler, you won’t regret it one bit.
This does look rather good! Here in NZ, KFC is currently selling a ‘Double Down’ burger which consists of two crumbed chicken fillets in lieu of a bun, and something in between (I haven’t identified what the ‘something’ is yet, owing to not being game to actually buy one, but suspect it’s coleslaw, cheese and sauce). Parmo looks a lot better!
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If you can master a béchamel sauce, you’ve mastered this dish. And according to many a drunken Brit at 1am, parmo is the bee’s knees. I last had one in 2012, but it was an enjoyable way to spend an evening eating something.
Do you eat Parmo?
I had parmo in 2012. But not since then. I suddenly remembered it the other day, thusly inspiring this post. That’s how this website rolls, dammit!
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