13 Feb 2012

Wonderful Casserole: Hearty Lancashire Hotpot - what a feast!

This dish has been on the agenda for a long time. I have been an avid follower of "the slow cooking" ideology and in the past years posted a number of recipes that has held true to those principles. Truly speaking I can't think of anything more enjoyable than spending an entire Saturday in the kitchen, cooking. Using these methods you manage to transform humble, simple ingredients in the best way - turning a cheep, often tough piece of meat into a mouthful that melts in your mouth, is very rewarding.

In many of my cookbooks you come across this recipe - and no wonder, it's an old classic. This will never be labelled as glamorous, stews rarely do! This is food for the soul, that warms the heart and makes you feel fulfilled. This is food that is destined to be cooked on a long cold dark winter Saturday. To savour when you return home after a long walk in the freezing cold! Our days have been just like that. Cold! I think everyone in Europe has had their fair share in the past month. South Sweden was no exception.

This dish goes back to the days long past - from Lanchashire in England. Before the industrialisation and before all possessed an oven in their home the cook would take the prepared dish in a ceramic pot and place it in the bakers oven, who had then finished his duties, but had a warm oven to lend. The pot was placed in the oven in the morning and then returned after people came home from work.

Wonderful Casserole: Hearty Lancashire Hotpot - what a feast!

This is simple and humble dish - but don't let that deceive you - it is a true feast!


It seldom occurs that you can obtain a whole shoulder of lamb (with the rib cage and neck attached) in our local stores. Usually I have to order this cut in advance at my local butcher. The advantage of using this cut is that is it cheap as chips but it also has its drawbacks that you need to cut off the meat. But don't let that dissuade you, just put on some good music, get a sharp butcher knife and get cracking. Just remember to follow the bone. Then all will turn out well!

Deboned lamb shoulder

O, and don't throw away the bone - that can be used for stock. Just brown in the oven and then boil with some vegetables and make lovely lamb stock to use for later.

Lamb ready for the pot
I got quite a lot of meat of this joint - plenty for us all! Too my surprise it took a shorter amount of time than expected - but I also got carried away and lost track of time. This kind of cooking can really preoccupy the mind!

Some hardy potatoes
The next step was to peel some potatoes. Then slice them down. You could of course use a mandolin to hasten the process - but Rick Stein, the TV chef, encourages his viewers to avoid that. Having uneven potatoes is more homely and rustic, and that is easily achieved with a knife.

Sliced onions
Then you cut down 2-3 onions, first into slices and then into halves - or vice versa if that is your inclination.

Boil some home made chicken stock
I had some hearty homemade chicken stock in the freezer I had made during Christmas that I simply put in a pot and heated. You can make stock from cubes or from liquid stock - but the greatest results are produced with the homemade stuff. The father of french cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, said that all good chef are measured by the stock they made and the quality of it.

The first layer
Then starts the process of layering the dish. First you brush the inside of your pot with some melted butter and season the dish with salt & pepper. Then start with a layer of potatoes, then onions and then some lovely lamb. Season each layers with salt&pepper. I also used one herb, some fresh thyme for each layer. Then continue these steps until the pot is full or you run out of ingredients.

Starting the second layer
Layer up on layer. Don't forget to be generous with the seasoning.

Adding the chicken stock
When you reached the last layer, push down on the ingredients to get them tightly together. Then add your hearty homemade chicken stock - 600-800 ml. It is not supposed to float over, put can be seen lingering beneath the last layer. Then place the last layer of potatoes - try to arrange them so that they will look appealing. Then place the lid on the pot and put in the oven, 130-150 degrees, for 3-6 hours. I am inclined to think that the longer the better.

Looks appetising?
An hour before you intend to serve the dish, take it out of the oven and brush the top with a little melted butter. Increase the heat to 200 degrees and put back in, now without the lid. That way the potatoes will brown and take a beautiful golden colour.
Red cabbage
This dish is traditionally served with some pickled red cabbage. That recipe takes some days to make so we came up with our own.
red cabbage "pickle"
Half a head of cabbage is cut down and put in a pot with a knob of butter, 1 dl of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 dl of balsamic vinegar, 2 dl of berry juice, salt&pepper, 1 tblsp of sugar, a few cloves and 1 tsp of ground coriander. Bring to a boil and reduce until the liquid has fully evaporated. Then you are left with some delicious gooey sweet and sour red cabbage.
Serve and indulge
This dish was truly magnificent. How can it be that such a simple dish - with so few ingredients can be so rewarding?
Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignion 2004

We had this potent red wine with the food. Wolf Blass Presidents Selection Cabernet Sauvignion from 2004. It is from south Australia. Wolf Blass produces a range of wines, from good bag-in-box to real heavyweight delicacies. This wine is in the upper range. Dark red colour. Potent with a load of fruit, hints of chocolate, vanilla and oak. Deep flavour with a long balanced aftertaste.
The mood was set!
Lets eat, drink and be merry. Bon appetit!

If you like what you read - don't be afraid to like/share. Regards, Doc Ragnar


  1. Hello...

    I was searching for Rick Stein's Lancs hotpot as shown on TV yesterday... SatKit's best bites; watched through a hangover so not noted down as I watched.

    Your version found instead seems to be just what the doctor ordered! Good photos and it does look appetising...so I'm off to buy the ingredients.


    1. Hello Pondlife

      Glad to see that you enjoyed the recipe! I hope that your hotpot was rewarding.

      Hope you enjoy my blog - I am slowly but surely translating my Icelandic blog which has been going strong now for nearly six years.


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