Being a proud Lancastrian I thought it would be sacrilege if I didn’t share this comfort-food classic that resides at the heart of every Northern soul – even our rivals on the east could not turn down this hearty, wholesome classic. Arguably one of the greatest stews in the world and at the very least the best dish of the north, (you can keep your puddings Yorkshire, we all know they’re only a side component to the main event), the Lancashire hotpot is an indubitable classic and sure fire way to keep everyone round the tea table happy.
The actual origin of the hotpot is not known, however it has been suggested that it came about in pre-industrialised Britain when people would have to work long hours in the mills. This recipe could be made quickly before going off to work and then left to cook all day until you would return home. The name, “Hotpot”, now refers to the casseroll dish that the stew is cooked in, but it actually derives from the earlier usage of the term “hodge – podge” which means mixed stew as people would often use whatever they could get their hands on. Nowadays the stew uses lamb as its main ingredient.
This recipe, taken from the Guardian, is an combination of recipes from five Great British Chefs, one of which was a winning dish in the Great British Menu 2009. However just because it’s award winning, doesn’t mean it’s complicated. Lancashire Hotpot is a one pot dish, meaning minimal washing up and maximum enjoyment.
This stew will take about two hours to cook, but only around twenty minutes to prepare. To make the hot pot, you will first need a hot pot or casserole dish with a diameter of 12 centimetres and a height of 8 centimetres. Start by preheating the oven to 170C.
Then dust 4-6 lamb cutlets with flour and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.
Then take 3 large potatoes (floury ones work best, such as Maris Piper) and peel them before slicing them thinly. After slicing you peppers, move on to onions: Slice two of these as well and set aside for later use.
Next, use butter to grease the casserole dish before arranging about a third of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of it. Season these with a little thyme.
Place the meat and some fresh bay leaves on top of the potatoes and finally the onions that you just sliced. Season all these toppings to taste, using a mixture of salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme work best..
You can then arrange the rest of the potato slices on top of the onions like overlapping fish scales, and season these with the same herbs and spices you used on the layer below.
Prepare 500ml of lamb stock and then pour this over the potatoes so that the stock reaches the base of the topping.
Brush the top potato slices with a little melted butter and then cover the casserole dish with foil and cook in the oven for two hours. Finally, remove the foil from the casserole and bake for another 30 minutes until the potatoes and golden and crisp.
Image : JJ Hall via Flickr