Traditional British Food: Cheap Cuts of Lamb for a Warming Hotpot the Way My Mother Made It
Almost everyone who lives in England will know of the long-running television soap opera Coronation Street and Betty the barmaid's famous hotpot, the recipe for which she would never reveal throughout her forty-plus years behind the bar. What Betty was serving to the customers in the Rovers Return was her version of Lancashire Hotpot, a traditional dish from North West England which is a regular in the culinary repertoire of many British housewives, usually served as a warming and comforting supper on a cold winter's day. I can still recall arriving home from school to find the mouth-watering aroma of hotpot drifting from the kitchen. It is a cheap nourishing meal and so easy to prepare. Here's how my Mum made it...
Cuts of Lamb Suitable for Lamb Hotpot
Fillet of neck of lamb, boned and cubed leg of lamb and 'stewing lamb' are all suitable cuts of meat for this recipe. Fillet of neck of lamb and leg of lamb are more expensive cuts than stewing lamb/neck of lamb.
Advantages of using the more expensive cuts:
- They contain less fat than the cheaper cuts of meat and do not contain bones. Therefore, less preparation time is required.
- They can be cooked a little more quickly.
My mother maintained that middle neck of lamb is the tastiest and most tender cut for this recipe. I agree, but it is quite fiddly to prepare if you want to produce a meal that hasn't got an excessive amount of fat in it.
- Stewing lamb/neck of lamb is an economical cut of meat.
- Scrag end of the neck of lamb is even cheaper but it is very bony.
- The downside of these cuts is that they produce a lot of fat when cooked. I like to cool the cooked meat in the refrigerator for several hours so that the fat rises to the top and solidifies and can be easily removed.
- These cuts are sold in pieces that still contain bones. Some people think that the bones make the dish more flavoursome.
- The meat should be slow-cooked until it falls easily off the bone.
Note: Traditional Lancashire Hotpot incorporates lamb's kidneys. My family dislikes them, so I leave them out.
British Cuts of Lamb
Equipment for Cooking Lamb Hotpot
- A chopping board
- A measuring jug
- A non-stick frying pan
- A casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.
- A Cooks' knife
- Kitchen tongues
Basic Ingredients of Lamb Hotpot
Cook Time For Lamb Hotpot Made With Leg of Lamb/Fillet of Neck of Lamb
Ingredients for Four Servings of Lamb Hotpot
- 650g/1.5 lb Potatoes, Sliced and placed in cold water
- 2 Onions, Roughly chopped
- 4–5 Carrots, Sliced
- About 600g/1.25lb Leg of lamb, Diced
- 2 Lamb Stock Cubes, dissolved in one pint of water
- 2–3 heaped tbspn Gravy Granules
- White pepper
- Salt and Black Pepper
- 1 clove garlic (optional), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon (approx) olive oil or rapeseed oil
Instructions For Making Lamb Hotpot
- Peel and slice the potatoes (about 1.5 cm thickness). Keep them in cold water until required. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/ 140 degrees fan/ gas mark 3
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan then fry the onions over a moderate heat until they start to caramelize, about 5–6 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that they don't brown or burn.
- Add the carrots to the pan and continue to fry for a few more minutes to release the sugars from the carrots. By now the onions should be a very light shade of gold.
- Place the onions, carrots and around half of the sliced potatoes in the casserole dish and then add the cubed lamb. Cover the mixture with hot stock. Optional extras: a bay leaf, garlic, or herbs of your choice
- Put the lid on the dish and place it in the oven for approximately 1.5 hours
- Remove the dish from the oven. Stir in the gravy granules to thicken the broth. Overlap the remaining sliced potatoes on top of the meat mixture. Make sure that the meat mixture is completely covered by the potato layer.
- Sprinkle salt and white pepper to taste on the potato topping (I like to use pepper quite generously in this recipe)
- Put the lid on the casserole dish. Return the dish to the oven for around half an hour. Then remove the lid from the dish and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes, until the tops of the potatoes are lightly browned.
The Benefits of Rapeseed Oil for Cooking Compared to Olive Oil
- Rapeseed oil is lower in saturated fat than any other cooking oil
- It is higher in vitamin E that olive oil
- The smoke point of rapeseed oil is higher than the smoke point of olive oil. Therefore, it retains better quality, flavour and health benefits.
Using Economical Cuts of Lamb to Make Hotpot
When using cheaper cuts of lamb I prepare the hotpot in three stages in order to remove some of the fat from the dish. After stage one II allow the stewed meat and onions to cool until the fat has solidified and can be skimmed from the dish.
You will need a larger quantity of lamb to yield the same edible amount as the more expensive cuts.
Total cooking time approximately 3 hours.
- Stage 1: Fry the onions and meat as described above. Place in the casserole dish and cook in at medium heat for approximately one and a half hours. Allow to cool and then place in the refrigerator until the fat has floated to the top of the dish and solidified. Skim the fat from the dish.
- Stage 2: Add the carrots, half of the potatoes, any of the optional extras, and return the dish to the oven for one hour.
- Stage 3: The meat should now fall from the bones, which can be removed from the dish.
Arrange the remaining sliced potatoes on the dish. Season and proceed as described above.
How to Prepare Stewing LambClick thumbnail to view full-size
Have You Eaten Lamb Hotpot
© 2017 Glen Rix