Wednesday, 5 March 2014

My Lancashire hot pot

The slow cooker is my friend. I couldn't have been without it over these past winter months. But as the cold weather draws to a close and signs of life begin to emerge outside, with that brings the prospect of picnic food, barbecues, marinades, salads in any form, mezze food, berries, afternoon tea, garden parties, lemonade and Roses lime cordial. 

Although I'd literally do anything in the slow cooker these days. One recipe I keep coming back to is my own version of a classic hot pot. Topped with well seasoned buttery thinly sliced potatoes, it's pure comfort food in a bowl. I like to eat on the sofa with feet curled round, while open fire is ablaze. Oh and a lovely glass of red on the side. 

About 500g of chunky diced lamb (any cut you like - neck fillet, rump, leg, shoulder). To be honest I sometimes use a mixture or whatever's on offer. Neck fillet is cheap but can be very fatty, it's a good idea to trim off as much fat as possible
1 tbsp of plain flour
1-2 sliced onion
1-2 stick of celery roughly chopped, half inch pieces are nice so they don't disintegrate into the dish
2 carrots, chopped the same as celery
A few sprigs of rosemary (or dried if you only have)
1 tbsp of tomato purée 
A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
A few shakes of Maggis sauce
About half a pint of water/stock

About 5 potatoes thinly sliced in rounds.

So brown the lamb in a little oil in a large frying pan, season well and add flour. Next the onions, carrots and celery. Then cook down for about 10 mins or so moving around the pan. Add the tomato purée. 
Tip all of this into the slow cooker. Then add your Worcestershire and Maggis, a few shakes of each. Plenty of s&p and water or stock. Stir to combine. Now just plonk lid on and leave on low/med/high depending on how long you want to leave it for. As a gauge, I cook on low if I'm preparing in the morning (or just after the school run), medium or high if I'm starting it off in the afternoon.  

Right so when the stew is done, you'll know it is when it's smelling amazing and meat is almost breaking with a spoon. Bearing in mind, it doesn't matter if the meat is not completely tender, you'll be giving it more cooking time when potatoes go on top. 

So transfer lamb stew into a lidded Le Creuset pot. I've used my round or oval one, both works well. 
You can even do this the day before and keep in the fridge. The flavours will become more intense and amalgamate. Actually things always taste better the next day I find. 
Slice thinly a few potatoes. Start layering the spuds, starting from the outside in. Put a random knob of butter in the top of each layer, with plenty of salt and pepper. I like to do about 3 layers in total, with a final "buttering" and seasoning. Put the lid on place in the oven for about an hour. 180degrees (fan) or thereabouts. For the last 30 minutes take the lid off so potatoes brown nicely on the edges.
Serve with a green vegetable, green beans or such like. 


This is amazing. I love the differing textures of the potatoes, some crispy on the edges/slightly chewy and others soft and breaking apart and buttery, absorbing all of the wonderful juices. 
You will not be disappointed with this.


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