When Alex and I visited his grandparents in Half Moon Bay, CA, Grandpa Norman Taylor prepared a Lancashire hotpot for dinner. Grandpa Norman was born in Lancashire in the 1920s, and met Grandma Nelly while strawberry picking in Finland. Over a dinner of Lancashire Hotpot, we were regaled with stories from when the two met, and where they lived around California and in New England.
The beauty of the Hotpot is that it is a simple, one pot meal. “My mother, being a true Lancastrian, cooked hotpot every other week, particularly in winter time when we had a fire in the kitchen/ living room, which heated our oven,” wrote Grandpa Norman. I wanted my adaptation of the traditional recipe to reflect the simplicity of the hotpot preparation, with a couple of my favorite vegetables thrown in. In the most traditional Lancashire Hotpot, you would have potatoes at the bottom, then mutton, then onion, followed by more potatoes in a crispy top-layer. When I made the Hotpot, I followed the same guidelines that Grandpa Norman used: a recipe from the bottom of The Guardian article entitled “How to cook the perfect Lancashire hotpot.” For variety, I used thick carrot slices with my onion layer, and tried celery root, rutabaga and red potatoes instead of just a couple of plain gold potatoes. Next time, I’ll use just rutabaga and celery root.
I recreated the Lancashire Hotpot recipe one winter weekend at my friend and teammate Rick’s home in Wrigleyville, while his rescue greyhounds, Rudy and Stella, kept us company. Alex joined us for fresh sourdough bread and a salad of local greens, beets and Rick’s homemade vinaigrette. Then the three of us dove into the piping hot Lancashire Hotpot.
Lancashire Hotpot – serves 4-6
Rick selected the meat for this dish at Whole Foods, and went with 1 1/2 pounds of lamb cut for stew. We also used beef stock instead of lamb stock, because of what was available to us at the lovely Plum Market in Old Town. For my root veggies, I selected potatoes, celery root and rutabaga; I included the potatoes in my recipe just to have a point of comparison for the other root vegetables, and can attest that the celery root and rutabaga cooked just as well in the hotpot. If you would prefer, you can skip the potatoes entirely and just double up on the rutabaga. We used Rick’s 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven.
We enjoyed our Lancashire Hotpot with a simple salad and hunks of fresh sourdough bread. You’ll want bread on hand to soak up the juices!
You will need:
- 2 T butter, plus extra to grease Dutch oven
- 2 small red potatoes
- 1 celery root
- 1 rutabaga
- 3 thick carrots
- 2 large yellow onions
- 1 1/2 pounds of meat
- a pinch of flour, to dust meat
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 T black pepper
- 1 T salt
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems
- bay leaf
- 16 oz lamb stock
- Preheat your oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel potatoes, rutabaga and carrots. Cut the outside layer of skin from your celery root. Slice potatoes, rutabaga and celery root into thin, circular slices. Chop onion into large, bite-sized pieces and cut carrots into ¼ inch rounds; set aside together.
- Grease your Dutch oven generously with butter.
- Arrange about one third of the potatoes, rutabaga and celery root around the bottom of your Dutch oven.
- Season with salt, pepper and thyme.
- In a separate bowl, dust lamb pieces with flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Add lamb to Dutch oven, topped with a single bay leaf and a sprinkle of thyme.
- Add onion and carrot layer, season with salt, pepper and thyme.
- Top with a final layer of potatoes, rutabaga and celery root slices, arranged in an overlapping pattern. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Pour stock over your Dutch oven contents.
- Melt butter and spread generously over the top layer of vegetables.
- Bake covered for 2 hours, then remove cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Recipe source from Grandpa Norman: Cloake, Felicity. “How to Cook the Perfect Lancashire Hotpot.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/oct/31/how-to-cook-perfect-lancashire-hotpot>.