Lancashire Hot Hot Hot Pot
At the end of the 18th century the Industrial revolution saw the emergence of coal-fired, steam machines enabling mass production and rapid transit of goods. Britain’s empire was expanding as was her indigenous population. The famous Lancastrian cotton mills opened all over the county, which in those days included Manchester and employed vast number of women and children in conditions and wages, which though unacceptable today, provided them with a life time of work. The men did heavier work in places like the mines and railways.
Despite their 70 hour, 6 day week, the workers standard of living improved considerably. They could now afford meat on a regular basis. The mills provided terraced houses, which had coalfired cooking ranges which were, for their time as modern as could be. But after the daily slog, it was the women who had to do the chores and the cooking. So nourishing one pot meals which cooked themselves all day and were ready for the home-coming were ideal and Lancashire Hot Pot fitted the bill perfectly.
Traditionally, cheap cuts of mutton, onion and thickly sliced potatoes were layered into tall brown earthenware pots and topped off overlapping potato roundels. The pot was placed on the range to cook slowly all day, and the cooker’s embers’ remained hot enough to achieve this. Hence they were ‘hot pots’.
Today Lancashire Hot Pot has gone up market and is as likely to appear all over Britain in gastro pubs at gastro prices using organic produce, which you are welcome to use, if you wish.
Over the years dishes’ simplicity has taken it all over the world. Variations can include oysters, kidneys, Worcestershire Sauce and curry powder. Which brings us to our Indian twist. No similar dish exists there, but the original slow cooking method of placing a pot over dying embers has been used in India for millennia.
We can use the oven rather than dying embers in this super tasty curry recipe.
675g lamb leg or neck, weighed after divesting it of all unwanted matter, and cut into 4cm (1 inch) cubes
657g large potatoes, peeled and sliced into roundels about 8mm thick
4 tablespoons butter ghee, melted
3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2.5cm cube fresh ginger, shredded
225g onion, finely sliced
115g plain natural yoghurt
115g cooked, unvinegared beetroot, finely chopped or minced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into roundels about 8mm thick
1 teaspoon salt
300ml meat stock or water
2 or 3 fresh red chillies, shredded (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
Pre heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.
Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a karahi or wok, and stir-fry the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the ground coriander, chilli powder and turmeric and continue to stir-fry for another 15 seconds. Add the ginger and onion and stir-fry until translucent (about 10 minutes).
In a mixing bowl combine the lamb, yoghurt and beetroot and mix well.
Place a further tablespoon of melted ghee into a lidded casserole pot of 2.25 to 2.75 litre (4 to 5 pint) capacity.
Remove the pot from the oven and place a layer of potato on the ghee covering the bottom of the pot.
Cover with half the onion fry from stage 2 above.
Put the meat mixture from stage 3 above on top of the onion, then the carrot, chillies and the remaining onion fry.
Mix the salt into the stock or water and carefully add it to the pot.
Top off with a final layer of attractively overlapping potato roundels, ensuring the surface is completely covered.
Brush the potato with the remaining tablespoon of melted ghee, sprinkle with salt.
Cover the pot with its lid and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 180?C / 350?F / Gas 4, then inspect, adding the fresh coriander and garam masala. Return to the oven for a further 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lamb is perfectly tender and the liquid is reduced to a thick consistency, about half its original quantity.
Remove the lid from the casserole and cook until the potatoes on the surface are brown, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Serve with Rice and / or Naan Bread and not forgetting the Cobra beer.
Recipe copyright Pat Chapman