Traditional British Food: Lamb Hotpot the Way My Mother Made It

Updated on December 1, 2017
Glenis Rix profile image

Glenis has been chief cook and bottlewasher in her home for over forty years. Nowadays she prefers to cook food which is quick and healthy

Lamb Hotpot

Lamb Hotpot
Lamb Hotpot | Source

Almost everyone who lives in England will know of the long-running 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

My mother maintained that middle neck of lamb is the tastiest cut for this recipe. It's an economical cut of meat but the downside is that it produces a lot of fat when cooked. If using this cut I stew the meat for an hour or so and then allow it to cool before proceeding the next stage. The fat will rise to the top of the dish and can be skimmed off. Any bones in the meat will have become detached during the cooking process and can be removed before proceeding further.

Scrag end of neck of lamb is even cheaper but it is very bony.

Fillet of neck of lamb and boned and cubed leg of lamb are more expensive alternatives. They cook more quickly and at a slightly higher temperature and don't need to be pre-cooked. The recipe that follows used cubed leg of Welsh lamb.

Traditional Lancashire Hotpot incorporates lamb's kidneys. My family dislikes them, so I leave them out.

British Cuts of Lamb

British Cuts of Lamb
British Cuts of Lamb | Source

Equipment for Cooking Lamb Hotpot

  • A non-stick frying pan
  • A casserole dish with a tight fitting lid. (I love the Le Creuset range of enameled iron casserole dishes because they can be used both on the hob and in the oven. The bonus is that they are aesthetically pleasing). They are, however, a little heavy, so if you are thinking of treating yourself I suggest that you buy the smallest that will meet your needs.

Basic Ingredients of Lamb Hotpot

Basic ingredients of lamb hotpot Leg of lamb, onions, carrots, stock, carrots, and potatoes
Basic ingredients of lamb hotpot Leg of lamb, onions, carrots, stock, carrots, and potatoes | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 2 hours 30 min
Yields: Serves Four People

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 water
  • 2 tbspn Gravy Granules
  • White pepper
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 1 clove Garlic(optional)

Instructions For Making Lamb Hotpot

  1. Peel and slice the potatoes. Keep them in cold water until required. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 160 degrees fan/ gas mark 4/350 degrees F
  2. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan then fry the onions over a moderate heat until the start to caramelize - about 5-6 minutes.Stir frequently to ensure that they don't burn.
  3. 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.
  4. Place the onions, carrots and around half of the sliced potatoes in the casserole dish and then add the cubed lamb. Add the chopped garlic (if using).
  5. Stir the gravy granules into the hot stock and then pour enough of the liquid into the casserole dish to just cover the ingredients. Stir well to mix the ingredients.
  6. Arrange the remaining potatoes in an attractive pattern on top of the meat mixture. Make sure that the meat mixture is completely covered by the potato layer.
  7. Sprinkle salt and white pepper to taste on the potato topping (I like to use pepper quite generously in this recipe)
  8. Put the lid on the casserole dish. Place in a pre-heated oven and cook for around one and a half hours. Remove the lid from the dish and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes, until the tops of the potatoes are lightly browned.
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© 2017 GlenR


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  • Spanish Food profile image

    Lena Durante 2 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

    So simple, yet so satisfying! With autumn just around the corner, this will definitely be on my to-make list.

    Thanks for another great recipe, Glenis!

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    GlenR 4 months ago from UK

    I took one of the pics , using an iPad

  • ptosis profile image

    ptosis 4 months ago from Arizona

    Nice pictures. Did you take them yourself? Use any special lighting? What kind of camera did you use?

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    GlenR 4 months ago from UK

    Jo, It's a variation on a traditional Lancashire Hotpot. You might find it on a pub menu occasionally, but I have doubts. I'm surprised that you feel there is a lack of diversity - I live in a small town and as well as pub grub we have Indian, Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, and Nepalese food to choose from. And the more expensive restaurants too. Try looking on Trip Advisor for recommendations. Village pubs are usually a good choice, but you need a car to get to them.

  • jo miller profile image

    Jo Miller 4 months ago from Tennessee

    This sounds delicious. Would I be able to get this dish in a restaurant in England? I have not found much diversity in restaurant fare in the UK. Perhaps I've been eating in the wrong places.

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    GlenR 4 months ago from UK

    Yes, Claire, it is expensive - unless you buy neck of lamb on the bone or scrag end.

  • Claire-louise profile image

    Claire Raymond 4 months ago from UK

    Sounds delicious, I love lamb, it is my favourite meat, I just wish it wasn't so expensive!

  • Glenis Rix profile image

    GlenR 4 months ago from UK

    The cooking time will be longer if you use the cheaper, bony cuts for meat - neck or scrag end. I have sometimes cooked these for up to 2.5 hours - until the meat falls away from the bones. When the stew has cooled and you have skimmed off the fat you will then need to allow cooking time for the potato topping - around 40 minutes. Diced leg of lamb takes less time to cook, as does fillet of neck of lamb - they have no bones, much less fat, cook more quickly, and are therefore more expensive. You could perhaps shorten the time that it takes to cook the potatoes by pre-boiling them - which case you would put the dish back into the oven without the lid and cook for a short time until the tops of the potatoes are slightly browned.

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

    This sounds wonderful. I do have a question. For the cheaper cuts of meat like the neck, you said they produce a lot of fat. If I precook this like you say to remove the fat, how much shorter would my cooking time be? Is that lengthy cooking time more for the potatoes since the meat is cubed?

    Here in my part of Brazil, sometimes what they call 'sheep or lamb' meat is actually goat.

    I am always looking for new ways to make a one pot meal.

  • Coffeequeeen profile image

    Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

    That sounds lovely Glenis. I miss Betty in Coronation Street. She was a great actress, and I loved her. =)