Milnrow rag to riches story
PUBLISHED: 10:42 24 September 2010 | UPDATED: 16:33 20 February 2014
A top London restaurant is about to start serving a delicacy perfected by Keith Jackson's granny. Emma Mayoh reveals his amazing success story
The good folk of Canary Walk, that London temple of style and sophistication, are in for a rare Lancastrian treat - and its all thanks to Keith Jacksons grandma.
Elsie perfected the rag pudding, a fine dish made from suet pastry and best beefsteak, and the secret recipe was handed down the family. Now, its about to appear on the menu of a posh hotel restaurant.
Keith returned to his native Lancashire after 20 years with the Dixon Store Group to take over the Milnrow-based wholesale butchery business from his dad, Peter. His fathers instincts proved to be correct - Keith lasted a fortnight!
But he was struck by the fact that the business had started making rag puddings based on his grandmas recipe and he decided to develop that side of the business.
The humble pudding has transformed Jacksons Farm Fayre, the firm Keith now runs. It took a while to perfect large-scale production - stopping the meat leaking was an early headache. But today, a staggering 800,000 puddings are made in Milnrow.
They are sold in chip shops, food stores and restaurants around Lancashire.
And soon it will be getting a wider audience. He was recently contacted by a Lancastrian chef who works in the kitchen of a new hotel in Canary Wharf. One try of the rag pudding and they were signed up, putting rag pudding on some of the poshest menus.
Not bad for a business run by Keith and a handful of women, who produce all of the puddings working part time.
He is keen to stress the surprising fact that the pudding is low in calories and fat. We had it analysed and when the results came back it wasnt what youd expect, he said. The fat and calories are very low and Id love to be able to get Weight Watchers to include it as one of their recipes.
I think my grandma would be very proud. This is her recipe that 800,000 people are eating every year and thats incredible. All I have done is improve the filling and the pastry a little. Im really proud to be carrying on what my mum and dad started as well.
Over the next few months Keith is going to increase production and is also currently in talks with friend and owner of the Real Lancashire Black Pudding Company, Andrew Holt. Keith also sells to Lancastrians who have moved away from the county.
He said: Im really pleased that people down south are enjoying it. The more people that eat rag pudding the better. Its good for you.
The former retail manager, who has just started an outside catering company as well, is now handing over the reins to factory manager Margaret Aldred. She met Keith because she was a customer.
He said: Shes a little stick of dynamite and I know that shell look after things. Im really pleased with everything the girls and I have achieved. I couldnt have done it without my mum and dad and, of course, my grandma.
Now we just need to start making even more rag puddings. Its a proper Lancashire dish and I want to make sure we keep celebrating that fact.
Do you have a delicious Lancashire recipe that has been handed down the generations? You can share it with Lancashire Life readers by emailing Emma Mayoh at firstname.lastname@example.org