There are various versions of Lancashire hot pot, one of the best-known dishes in the North, but the main ingredients are almost invariably flavoursome cuts of lamb (like the neck, which is traditionally cut on the bone like chops), potatoes and onions. Kidneys - and even black pudding - can be added to the potatoes and onions. Back in the days when they were cheap, a few oysters would be put under the potato, but that is largely a thing of the past, although well worth trying if you like them.
The pot in which the hot pot is cooked is important, and it took me some years to find an appropriately deep glazed terracotta pot that was suitable - and looked the part, too. Amazingly, I eventually found it in a junk shop in Romiley, near Manchester, along with a couple of old cookbooks, all for £3.50.
Pickled red cabbage is the traditional accompaniment to Lancashire hot pot. You may think it a strange pairing, but it works as well with a simple hot pot as it does with a plate of cold cuts.
Salt and pepper
1kg lamb or mutton neck chops, cut into rough 3-4cm chunks
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for frying
60g unsalted butter, plus a little more for brushing
450-500g onions, thinly sliced
A few sprigs of thyme
800ml lamb or beef stock (or a good-quality stock cube dissolved in that amount of water)
1kg large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
For the pickled red cabbage
1 litre red wine vinegar
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp pickling spice
1tbsp caster sugar
1 head of red cabbage, quartered and finely shredded
It's best to make this several weeks in advance, so that the red cabbage gets nicely soft and pickled. In a non-reactive pan, bring the vinegar to the boil with the pepper, pickling spice, sugar and salt, and leave to cool. Mix the shredded cabbage into the cooled pickling liquid in another non-reactive f bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, pack the cabbage into sterilised jars and top up with the vinegar. Seal the jars and store in a cool place for a minimum of four weeks, or up to 12 months.
When you want to cook the hot pot, pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas 7. Season the pieces of lamb and dust with flour. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy-based frying pan and fry the lamb, a few pieces at a time, on a high heat until nicely coloured.
Clean the pan and heat another couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, then fry the onions on a high heat until they begin to colour. Add the butter and continue to cook for a few minutes until the onions soften. Dust them with a tablespoon of flour, stir well and gradually add the lamb stock, stirring to avoid lumps, and then sprinkle in the thyme. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Now you're ready to assemble the hot pot. Take an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid or similar, cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of meat with a little sauce, then another layer of potatoes. Continue until the meat and sauce has all been used. Finish the top with a layer of nicely overlapping potato slices. Brush the top with a little of the sauce and cook in the oven for about half an hour, then turn the oven down to 130C/gas 1 and leave in the oven for 2 hours.
Remove the lid from the dish and turn the oven back up to 220C/gas 7. Brush the top of the hot pot with a little melted butter and return to the oven to allow the potatoes to brown for a final half hour.
Serve piping hot with the pickled red cabbage.Reuse content