And one of the great stews of the world
I’ve always wanted to try an cook a Lancashire hot pot because it’s a true northern classic.
And because it looks so inviting!
PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOKING TIME: 3 hrs slow cooking
IDEAL FOR: crowd-pleaser, family
Lancashire, North West England
The Industrial Revolution.
It was during this time that, Lancashire grew in prosperity.
Due to industry around the docks, cotton mills and coal.
And it’s two major cities- Liverpool and Manchester* – dominated global trade.
The county contained several mill towns and the collieries of the Lancashire Coalfield.
By around the 1830s, a whopping 80% of all cotton manufactured worldwide, was processed in Lancashire.
So, everyone was working hard.
Which meant new ways to cook and eat food came about.
(*side note: Liverpool and Manchester formed the metropolitan and ceremonial counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester in 1974 so are no longer in Lancashire county.)
Brilliant people, brilliant food, brilliant inventions
Lancashire, rightfully so, is very proud of its present and past achievements.
So, I thought I’d list just a few, with some unexpected ones in there for me as well.
Comedy: Lancashire’s comedians include Victoria Wood, Les Dawson, Ken Dodd, Peter Kay and many more.
Food: Not only do they have the Lancashire hot pot but also;
- Black pudding,
- Morecambe Bay shrimps,
- Tasty cheeses,
- Jelly babies,
- Eccles cake
- Chorley cake.
Great chefs: Top UK chefs including Paul Heathcote, Marcus Wareing and Nigel Howarth.
Inventions: Lancashire invented a lot of great food but they also invented some impressive things, such as:
- the kilt
- the torpedo,
- the Ewbank carpet cleaner,
- tide times,
- the modern computer,
- white road markings.
Not a bad list.
And they can definitely be proud of one of the tastiest inventions, the Lancashire hot pot.
It really is up there as a true northern classic.
Lancashire hot pot. A true northern classic
So, where did it all begin?
Like the cottage pie, the Lancashire hotpot is all about simplicity.
And it’s born, once again, out of the necessity for food.
In the mid-19th century, millworkers would use everyday ingredients like carrots, mutton, potatoes to keep them going.
And even oysters were in the mix as they were a poor mans food back then.
And because oysters were a good source of protein and flavour.
It was a great way to bulk out a hot pot a bit more as well.
Nowadays, sadly, you won’t find oysters.
So, instead a splash of Worcestershire Sauce adds that ‘je ne sais quoi’.
The name comes from ‘hodge-podge’ of ingredients i.e. whatever was to hand that day.
And not from the tall, earthenware dish used to make the stew.
The Lancashire hot pot is quick and simple to make.
And as with all good cheap cuts of tough meat, they cooked it slowly.
So, the hot pot could be left to its own devices while everyone went off to work.
And then come back to a delicious meal.
Lancashire hot pot meat
Traditionally, mutton was the meat used as it was the cheapest.
But it’s quite hard to find these days.
So, using lamb such as neck lamb, shoulder or shin are now found in most recipes.
I’m using lamb neck.
It’s got texture, flavour, and very little fat.
So, the trick is to cook it right and you’re in for a real treat.
And your hungry mouths will be asking for more of that true northern classic, the Lancashire hot pot.
Lancashire hot pot
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 kg lamb neck fillet (cut into large pieces) and shin or shoulder (cut into large pieces) *a mix of cheap lamb cuts, so whatever your butcher has
- 300 ml red wine
- 4 medium onions, sliced thinly
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 tsp plain flour
- 500 g good-quality fresh lamb or beef stock – the more gelatinous the better
- 1 tsp redcurrant jelly
- 550 g waxy potatoes – peeled and very thinly sliced *use a mandolin if possible otherwise cut very thinly
- sea salt and pepper for seasoning
- Cut your lamb into large pieces then lightly dust with plain flour. In a large pan, on high heat, add 2 tbsps of sunflower oil and start browning the lamb – don't overcrowd the pan so you may need to do in batches.Once the lamb is a deep brown, remove and set aside.Pour the wine into the pan to deglaze it, scraping all the nice meaty brown bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon and let reduce by about half and set aside ocne done.
- Now, heat the rest of the oil in a heavy-based casserole over a medium heat, add the onions and cook for about 25 mins until softened. Then halfway through, throw in the herbs and once they're nice and soft, stir in the flour and cook it for a minute.
- Transfer the meat to the casserole dish and add the stock, the deglazed reduction, then cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for 2 hrs. After 2 hrs stir in the redcurrant jelly and season liberally.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Layer the potatoes over the top of the stew until the meat is totally covered in potato slices. Cover with a layer of baking parchment followed by foil then find a small ovenproof pie dish that you can use as a weight to press the whole thing down and place in the oven for 30 mins.After this 30 mins, remove the weight, foil and parchment and return to the oven for a another 30 mins to allow the potatoes to brown and the excess liquid to evaporate.Serve.