A hearty meal for hard-working people, Cold Plates are a very traditional Newfoundland Sunday night supper. It also happens to be my personal favourite! Consisting of three different types of potato salad, a pasta salad, coleslaw, and more, this meal is certainly hearty and filling!
Oh, my Dear Reader, looking at these photographs evokes such feelings of comfort and nostalgia for me. Traditional Newfoundland Cold Plates were served in our home every single Sunday night without fail. In fact, they were also served at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years!
Make your own online recipe box!
Click the in the lower right corner of your screen
& follow the quick and easy instructions!
COLD PLATES AND JIGGS DINNER
It was very common in our home to have a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner consisting of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, turnip, carrot, etc. All of those vegetables were cooked in the same pot along with cured salt beet and a pudding or two.
That meal was usually referred to as “cooked dinner,” “hot dinner,” or sometimes, just “cook.” It’s most commonly known as Jiggs Dinner outside of Newfoundland, but in our home, it meant a simplified variation of the meal.
If someone said Jiggs Dinner, it meant that the meal would not have any roasted turkey, chicken, or beef – just the cured salt beef – and there would also be no gravy. It’s confusing, but we all knew what Mom meant when she said one or the other.
But this post is not about that meal, it’s about Cold Plates! What I’m trying to say is that we would eat large on special occasions. We would have “cooked dinner” for lunch and then Cold Plates for dinner. Or, in the case of Christmas, we’d have “cooked dinner” for a late lunch on Christmas Day, and then we’d have Cold Plates for supper on Boxing Day.
WE HAVE 4 MEALS EACH DAY!
Oh, I should mention that you might need to first understand that you can eat dinner for lunch in Newfoundland, because that’s exactly what it is! In Newfoundland, there are four meals each day – breakfast, dinner, supper, and lunch. (As opposed to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.)
Breakfast is self-explanatory. Lunch (around noon) was called dinner. If your friend at school asked if you were going home at dinnertime, you knew full well that they meant lunchtime. Then there was supper – not dinner. And lastly, there was lunch.
Lunch was a little strange now that I think back on it. Anything consumed between 8 pm and bedtime was considered a lunch. And it’s quite common to have company for lunch – friends or neighbours could join you for a cup of tea, maybe some buttered bread, canned ham, a slice of fruitcake, a tea biscuit, etc.
So, all of that is just to let you know that Cold Plates are a meal served for suppers (not dinners!) every Sunday night, or on every special occasion. It’s complicated – I know – but, this meal is the complete opposite – it’s uncomplicated, rustic, not fancy at all, but so damn delicious!
LET’S TALK ABOUT COLD PLATES!
Traditional Newfoundland Cold plates consist of three types of potato salads – there’s the Vegetable Potato Salad, (sometimes called White Salad) Pickled Beet Potato Salad, and the Mustard Potato Salad. There’s also a macaroni or pasta salad, and always a coleslaw too. Depending on who’s preparing the plate, there may or may not be a jello salad – I left that out because it wasn’t common for us and I actually do not like it!
Then you have your main, which in most cases is a turkey. We only had turkey on special occasions. When mom prepared Cold Plates for a regular Sunday night dinner, she would most likely include roasted chicken, sometimes roast beef, or rarely, glazed ham.
If there was turkey, you could count on there being dressing (stuffing) as well. And lastly, there were the little add-ins, like the slice of black forest ham that had been tightly rolled and pierced with a toothpick; the slice of tomato sitting atop some iceberg lettuce; the cranberry sauce; and, of course, the dinner roll.
All of this created the most popular and most recognized meal on the island. It probably still is! And, more importantly, it created my all-time favourite meal. I could seriously eat this every day and never grow tired of it.
It’s a lot of work to prepare this meal, but it’s not something I do that often anymore. That’s why it was completely worth the effort this time. And, I have been promising to write up this recipe for a long time!
Below, you will find a series of recipe cards. There are no steadfast rules to making your version of a Traditional Newfoundland Cold Plate. Pick and choose the items you want to include and make only those. To be honest, almost every family in Newfoundland had/has their own version, so you can too!
I do hope you enjoy this meal, Dear Reader. It is one that is dear to me and makes me think of my mom and family dinners around the table every Sunday night.
If you read through the text above, you’ll already be aware of the fact that a Cold Plate is whatever you make it. I have listed the items and any of the items that require a recipe, you can find them below. I’ll walk you through how I assemble my version.
The first thing you’ll need is a turkey. The following is a recipe for a simple roasted turkey that anyone can make! If you want to substitute the turkey with roasted chicken, glazed ham, or roast beef, it would be completely acceptable. (Some Cold Plates have two types of meat!) Either way, the turkey is the first thing I place on the plate.
THE DRESSING (AKA STUFFING)
After the turkey (or other meats) have been plated, I add the dressing to the plate. If you plan to stuff the turkey, you can use the following recipe. It’s very traditional Newfoundland! Or you can bake it like I did and not stuff the turkey at all. This stuffing is referred to as dressing in Newfoundland.
THE HOLY TRINITY OF POTATO SALADS
Now we will need to plate the potato salads. Please note that I like to use a mashed potato scoop to get nicely rounded and evenly portioned mounds of potato salad. If you don’t have one, you can certainly use a spoon.
Like I said previously, there are three different types of potato salad that help to make up the Cold Plate. So, let’s get started. First up is my personal favourite – the Vegetable Potato Salad.
The next potato salad is the Mustard Potato Salad. Place a scoop of this one right next to the Vegetable Potato Salad.
Lastly, there’s the Pickled Beet Potato Salad. Again, using the mashed potato scoop if you happen to have one, place a scoop of this bright pink salad right next to the other potato salads.
PASTA SALAD IS A MUST!
My next favourite part is the Macaroni Salad. This is a replica of my mom’s macaroni salad and we prepare it and eat it often, not just for Cold Plates. It’s not easy to get a perfect mound, so just use a spoon and pile it as neatly as possible on the plate.
SO IS COLESLAW!
Finally, another favourite of mine, is the coleslaw. Oh, I might as well confess that they are all my favourites! If you want to place the coleslaw into a small ramekin or serving cup, you certainly can. I would advise you do this if you plan to prepare the Cold Plates ahead of time. Otherwise, the liquid in the coleslaw will run.
You’re almost done! It’s now time to nuzzle in the iceberg lettuce leaves. Top them with a slice of tomato. Place the rolled ham on the edge of the plate. And, lastly, add a freshly baked bun. I never bake the buns from scratch, but buy them from our local grocer.
Congratulations, Dear Reader! You have just assembled a Traditional Newfoundland Cold Plate!! It’s time to dig in. Yes, it’s a big and hearty meal, but you deserve it once in a while. Put on your stretchy pants and enjoy!
Did you make this recipe?
Upload a photo and tag me so that I can see it!