The Irish have their stew, the Welsh have cawl and in Lancashire, they have hotpot. Lancashire Hotpot is probably the most famous dish to come from the county of Lancashire and is very simple and straightforward to make.
Hotpot is a long, slow-cooked recipe, yet unlike many stews, it is still quite light and suitable for eating year-round (except perhaps on a scorching summer's day). Pop it in the oven, leave for a couple of hours and you have a great supper dish ready and waiting for you. It tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had time to develop.
- 2 ounces/55 g beef drippings (or lard)
- 8 lamb chops (middle-neck, on the bone)
- 1/2 pound/225 g onions (peeled and finely sliced)
- 2 ounces/55 g butter (melted)
- 2 pounds/900 g potatoes (peeled and thickly sliced)
- Optional: 4 lamb kidneys (cored and sliced)
- 1 large carrot (peeled and thickly sliced)
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cups/1 liter beef stock (or chicken stock)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Heat the oven to 400 F/200 C.
In a large frying pan, melt the drippings or lard and heat until hot but not smoking. Quickly brown the chops on both sides, remove from the fat, and drain on paper towels.
Add the sliced onions to the hot fat and cook quickly, stirring constantly, until softened but not brown. Remove from the fat and drain on paper towels.
In a large, ovenproof casserole melt half the butter then cover the bottom with half the sliced potatoes, half the onions, and season with salt and pepper.
Lay the chops on the top of the onion (don't worry if the bones stick up, this is traditional in a Lancashire hotpot). Lay the optional sliced kidneys over the chops, add the carrot slices, cover with the remaining onions, and season with salt and pepper.
Pour in enough stock to come two-thirds up the casserole dish. Don't worry if you have leftover stock, you can always use it to top up during cooking. Add the Worcestershire sauce.
Cover with the rest of the potatoes, overlapping them to ensure the entire surface is completely covered. Brush the potatoes with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 F/180 C and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours. Check from time to time to make sure the casserole isn't drying out. If so, top up with stock or water as necessary.
Remove the lid from the casserole and cook until the potatoes on the surface are brown. Remove from the oven and let rest about 10 minutes.
Serve on hot plates with fresh, seasonal vegetables.