Thursday, 1 October 2009

Lancashire Hot-Pot

Brrr. What happened to October? We seem to have headed straight into November. I hope this is temporary...

In the mean time, here's a nice peasanty dish to keep you warm. This is a traditional dish from, you guessed it, Lancashire. It's basically a baked stew. Mill workers would make it in the morning, put it in a slow oven, and come back to a hot cooked dinner at night. If you want it a bit faster, bake it at 325°F for 3 or 4 hours.

Other customary additions were oysters (!) back in the days when they were cheap (no time recently, alas) or sliced lamb's kidney. If you have one or two of those to add, up the rosemary a little. A lot of the modern recipes I looked at before I made this called for butter as the fat, and wine as the liquid, neither of which sounded quite right to me. I had some lovely, smoky bacon fat which seemed more authentic somehow, and if you are going to put in alcohol, beer strikes me as more in keeping with the time and place, and I would probably use a mix of broth and beer if I could.

I have to say, the bacon fat really added to the flavour; I think I would have rated this as distinctly dull without it. As it was, definitely more in the hot ballast for workers than the gourmet category. Something to keep in mind. We enjoyed it, though.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time - hours and hours to bake

Lancashire Hot Pot
2 or 3 medium leeks
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
1 to 1 1/2 cups sliced rutabaga
6 medium potatoes
2 or 3 tablespoons bacon fat, much divided
500 grams (1 pound) lean stewing lamb
2 tablespoons flour
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 cup water, broth or beer

Trim and slice the leeks, and rinse them well. Drain them. Peel and chop the onion. Heat a couple teaspoons or so of the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks and onions until soft, stirring regularly. They should not brown much.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the carrots, moderately thin. Peel and slice the rutabaga and potatoes likewise.

Turn the leeks and onions out of the pan onto a plate. Add another couple teaspoons of bacon fat to the pan, and turn up the heat a bit. Toss the lamb with the flour, salt and pepper, savory and rosemary, and brown it in the bacon fat.

Meanwhile, take a teaspoon of the remaining bacon fat, and use it to grease a deep, preferably round casserole dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of about a quarter of the potatoes. Cover it with a third of the leeks and onions, a third of the carrots and a third of the rutabaga. When the lamb is ready, spread a third of the lamb over the vegetables. Add another layer of potatoes - a third of the remainder, and half each of the leeks, carrots and rutabaga and lamb as above. Finish with another layer of potatoes, the remainder of the other vegetables and lamb, and finish with a final layer of potatoes.

Deglaze the skillet with the water or broth, and pour it over the casserole. Heat the oven to 300°F and cover the casserole. Bake it for 5 to 7 hours. Remove the lid, dab the final teaspoon of bacon fat over the top and put the casserole back in a hotter oven (375°F) to brown a little, for about 20 minutes or half an hour, if you want. Not really necessary.

Last year at this time I was working on Canned (Bottled) Tomato Sauce, and would be for several days. This year we're all done already! Might can a few more plain chopped tomatoes, if we can still get them. Been a terrible year for tomatoes.


Meaford said...

hot pot is always so good after a long hike on a chilly day!We prefer a glass of red wine for flavor instead of the beer & serve with pickled red cabbage--

Joanne said...

This looks incredibly hearty, especially since it has gotten so cold so fast! I have been craving stews like this all week.