Mutton hot pot

Serves 4-6
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Hot pot is probably one of the best known dishes in the North. There are various versions of Lancashire hot pot, but traditionally it would have been made with cuts of mutton such as neck chops. Kidneys and even some black pudding can be added. Back in the days when they were cheap, a few oysters would be slipped under the potato just for the last part of cooking. Mutton is in season now after a summer break and I strongly recommend using it for slow-cooked lamb dishes. You can buy it direct from Scotland from www.blackface.co.uk. Farmer Sharp's stall in Borough Market, London SE1, sells Herdwick mutton from the Lake District. If you can't get to the market contact info@farmersharp.co.uk.

800g mutton neck fillet, cut into rough 3-4cm chunks or 1.2kg mutton chops
6 lambs' kidneys, halved (optional)
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for frying
60g unsalted butter plus a little extra for brushing
450-500g onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1tsp chopped rosemary leaves
800ml lamb or beef stock (a good quality cube will do)
1kg large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Season the pieces of mutton and kidneys separately with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry the mutton a few pieces at a time on a high heat until nicely coloured. Then drain in a colander. Fry and drain the kidneys afterwards, and set aside, mixed with the meat. Clean the pan and heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. Fry the onions on a high heat until they begin to colour, add the butter and continue to cook for a few minutes until they soften. Dust the onions with a tablespoon of flour, stir well and gradually add the lamb stock, stirring to avoid lumps, and sprinkle in the rosemary. Bring to the boil, season and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Now you're ready to assemble the pot. Take an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid or similar, cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes first, followed by the meat with a little sauce, then the potatoes again. 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 with the lid on for about 30 minutes on 220C/gas mark 7, and then turn the oven down to 140C/gas mark 1 and leave for 2 hours.

Then remove the lid and turn the oven back up to 220C/gas mark 7. Brush the top with a little melted butter to allow the potatoes to brown for the final 15 minutes or so.

Serve with pickled red cabbage as they do up north, or with seasonal root vegetables or greens. It's guaranteed to keep the cold out.

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