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How to Make Scouse, the Traditional Liverpool Stew

Author:

Izzy is a longtime online writer who loves writing about a wide range of topics—from recipes to gardening to exotic plants.

Freshly made pot of Scouse (thanks, Elaine!)

Freshly made pot of Scouse (thanks, Elaine!)

Traditional Scouse Recipe

Scouse is a beef or lamb stew traditionally associated with the people of Liverpool, who have come to be known as "Scousers" over the years.

The recipe for Scouse is pretty broad: There is no definitive recipe, because it was traditionally made from leftovers and whatever was in season at the time.

Warm and filling, Scouse was originally brought to Liverpool by Northern European sailors. The original name of what was once a lamb stew was "lobskause" or "labskause," which over the years has been shortened and Anglicised to just "Scouse."

The city of Liverpool is situated at the mouth of the River Mersey as it meets the Irish sea in North West England. It was a small fishing port up until the late 17th century when it experienced rapid growth thanks to the expansion of the British empire into the trade colonies of North America and the West Indies.

By the 18th century, Liverpool traded goods via the docks with the whole world, and became a popular stopping port for sailors from Norway, Germany, Holland and Belgium. It was probably those sailors who brought Lobskause to the city.

Lamb in olden times was a much cheaper alternative to beef, so Scouse stew was originally made from lamb with beef becoming a later addition.

Ingredients

  • Stewing beef (any cut)
  • Lamb–breast if possible, but chops can be used, too. Remove the bones after cooking.
  • Onions, chopped
  • Carrot, chopped, diced or sliced
  • Potatoes, quartered
  • Cabbage, diced—maybe a quarter cabbage, not too much.
  • Water or stock
  • Worcester sauce (optional)
  • Any other seasonal root veg you have and want to use up–turnip, swede, etc.

Notice I haven’t put amounts in? That is because it all depends on what you have. Use roughly 3 pounds of vegetables to every 1 pound of meat. Go ahead and use up those leftovers from your traditional Sunday roast, with added seasonal vegetables.

Scouse could feed the poor, and feed them well, especially in the cold winter months. Nowadays, lamb is so expensive it is outside of many budgets and so may be omitted.

Instructions

  1. Put a little vegetable oil in the base of a large saucepan, and place on low heat.
  2. Add the onions, and fry gently until clear.
  3. Add the cubed meat and brown it all over.
  4. Add the rest of the vegetables, and stir till they are braised.
  5. Add water to cover meat. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer with lid on for about 2 hours.
  6. Season to taste if plain water was used. If you used stock, it already has seasoning, but taste as you go along and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  7. After 2 hours, add the potatoes, bring back to boil, reduce heat and simmer for another 2 hours. As the potato cooks, some will break up and naturally thicken the dish.

At the end of cooking time, you should have a potful of something that looks like the photo above (especially cooked for me by my Scouser friend). It tastes divine!

Scouse can be refrigerated for two or three days and can feed a cast of thousands cheaply. It can also be frozen, although the texture will change, as potatoes don’t take to freezing too well.

It is best served with pickled cabbage and crusty bread and butter.

The City of Liverpool

The City of Liverpool

Comments

mafeesh on February 27, 2020:

Scouse born and bred here.

To Jon, who posted that Scouse doesn't contain meat. Of course it does! Yer ma was just too much of a squeaky hinge to buy meat for you, so she told you it doesn't. Scouse without meat is Blind Scouse.

This is a good recipe, we never used cabbage in our house though, but often swede or turnip.

I've just cooked a blind one, as my better half doesn't eat meat. Onions, carrots, spuds, celery and spring cabbage, 200g brown lentils, 6oz chopped mushrooms.

All braised off apart from the potatoes, which were added immediately after the water. Brought to the boil and simmered for 4 hours. Lovely!

Haven't got any pickled cabbage at the moment, so there's a jar of homemade pickled beetroot waiting to go with it and a fresh-baked loaf.

To Danny, who thinks it's funny to stereotype people, Crawl back to your mummy you sad little bin-dipper.

danny on August 09, 2019:

how do u make a liverpool omelette ??? well first of all tou steal 2 eggs

Cheeky bri on January 13, 2019:

I dont understand how with sich rocket fuel food the red football team havent done any better all these years? Maybe some Lancashire Hot Pot could help as eaten in farer corners of the historic boundaries?

Lynda on January 04, 2019:

I'm a Scouser but when I make scouse I put the potatoes in at the start and use carrots swede and celery but not cabbage. My mum used to use lamb necks or stewing lamb but now so expensive so stewing steak is a good option with stick cubes and lentils etc

mark on December 17, 2018:

also nice with beetroot

P. Gest on June 17, 2018:

My mother was a Liverpudlian and her scouse was too die for. She always made it with the left over brisket from the Sunday roast. Try as I may I cannot make a pan of Scouse that tastes like my mothers

ericjjohnson1942@gmail.com on November 26, 2017:

If you were to poor to put in meat it was called blind scouse (cos you could not see any meat)

d farrell on October 31, 2014:

i am a scouser and have been cooking scouse for years' your description is spot on. Its what me mam told me well done great. scouse is divine

IzzyM (author) from UK on December 22, 2012:

Yeah some people seem to think it should have a definitive amount of ingredients, but of course it can't, considering it's history.

Alwyn on December 21, 2012:

This is probably the most authentic recipe. I hate it when scouse recipes are over complicated by people.

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 20, 2011:

I love Liverpudlians, they are so friendly and so much fun! Enjoy your scouse!

Escape2Paradise from Bangkok Thailand on September 20, 2011:

I will be able to eat this scouse everyday when I move to Liverpool hehe can't wait!! Thanks for sharing a great content vote up!!!

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 20, 2011:

It's not only really easy to make, its cheap too as everything is done in one pot, and the heat under it is also low (except when bringing to boil), and that one pot can last several days!

johncimble from Bangkok on September 19, 2011:

great hub! this look so easy for me i think!! i was there in Liverpool before but i didn't have a chance to try it :( gutted!

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 01, 2011:

Elaine says it does, and she is a cook and a Scouser.Maybe originally there was no meat in it because some Scousers couldn't afford meat, I don't know, but thanks for commenting :)

Jon - Liverpool on May 01, 2011:

That's not scouse! Scouse doesn't have meat in it!

mysterylady 89 from Florida on January 25, 2011:

Buying a ready-made jar sounds like the way to go. I'll have to look for it. Thanks!

IzzyM (author) from UK on January 25, 2011:

https://hubpages.com/food/How-to-Pickle-and-Preser... might have some pointers, but most people I know just buy a ready-made jar of pickled cabbage :)

mysterylady 89 from Florida on January 25, 2011:

I always love it when you share a recipe! This stew would be great on a cold day. How do you pickle cabbage?

IzzyM (author) from UK on January 24, 2011:

@lyndre - what are you like? Good point however, steal the ingredients that makes it even cheaper!

Merlin, add dumplings into this recipe! As you say, leave out the pickled cabbage, stew with dumplings and potatoes is to die for!

lyndre on January 24, 2011:

The first to do when cooking scouse is steal 1lb of stewing beef.:lol:

Merlin Fraser from Cotswold Hills on January 24, 2011:

Sounds good, especially when the wether is cold like it is, need something that sticks to the ribs !!!

My mother always cooked the stew and potatoes seperately, but there again we always had dumplings as well....

If you're not into dumplings then cooking the potatoes in the stew saves a saucepan.

Like the doorsteps of fresh bread and butter idea as well but I'm not sure about the pickled cabbage, boiled as a veg to go with the stew perhaps !

IzzyM (author) from UK on January 24, 2011:

It's delicious with bread - I think white rice would be too much with all the potatoes too!

Ingenira on January 24, 2011:

Hmmm.... yummy, it'd be nice to have it with bread or white rice.

IzzyM (author) from UK on January 23, 2011:

I think what makes scouse different from other stews is the serving of it with pickled cabbage or onions. Must be a throwback to the days when sailors had to pickle veggies to keep them edible on long voyages.

Annette Donaldson from Northern Ireland on January 23, 2011:

Although now living in Ireland I was born in Southport, and remember fondly being fed scouse. I too in turn have made many a scouse dinner for my family. Filling, and delicious with crusty bread as you say. We used a cob cut into slices and thickly buttered. It warmed the cockles of my heart to read your article and made me think longingly for home. Hmm must put another pot of scouse on.