~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lancashire Hotpot....James Martin

Traditional Lancashire Hotpot... James Martin When I received the Denby James Martin Medium Covered Casserole from the wonderful folks at Denby, I instantly knew I wanted to make a traditional English peasant dish. So I chose the Lancashire Hotpot. Lancashire Hotpot is a meat and potatoes kind of dish.

Story says the dish originated in the cotton towns of Lancashire County, England. Some accounts say this dish was eaten by shepherds while they tended their sheep on the hills, others say the dish was prepared for mill workers. Nobody knows for sure where the dish originated..., but it was quite possible that it was prepared by the mill worker's wives. It was prepared early in the morning, cooked slowly thoughout the day, and provided a warm and satisfying meal. It was especially welcoming after a hard day's work.

There are other possible origins, but we know this meat stew was prepared with local ingredients. It was a peasant sort of dish as it was simple to prepare, usually with the most economical of ingredients. The dish usually contained the meat readily available to them, either mutton or lamb. Lamb kidneys were often used to bring extra flavor to the dish. Some say even oysters were used, which at that time, was food for the poor in Britain. The meat was layered with some sort of root vegetables mostly onion and potatoes, maybe carrots if you were wealthy enough. Water was added so that the dish wouldn't dry out while it cooked for hours. It provided a flavorful and tasty gravy to the finished product.

The Lancashire Hotpot was often made during the winter months when a warm tasty meal kept the chills away. Pickled red cabbage and/or glazed carrots would often accompany the dish. Whatever the origin, the Lancashire Hotpot has become a well known dish and is often served in many restaurants with all sorts of variations.

Many chefs have opted to bring it up to a different level by adding their own spin on it. Some add seasoned stock, wine, various herbs, Worcestershire sauce and some even a bit of curry.
If you feel you don't like lamb, try substituting it with beef or veal. You have to like the dish, so choose ingredients that you love. I decided to make it very similar to the "original"...

I so hoped to find some kidneys as well. I searched all over town. I asked my butcher if he had any available lamb kidneys. He answered, " Ma'am, you are living in the wrong part of the world!" Funny, you would think the Montanans would have such a thing...hmmm. Well, I had to do without the kidneys, for now anyway...One other butcher has me on a 2 month waiting list for some lamb kidneys:). I won't make a habit of making this dish with the kidneys. However, I want to try it at least once...to sort of go back in time. I want to set aside the "sophisticated" palate and enjoy a simple and unsophisticated dish.

~~~~~~~~~~Excerpts from Elizabeth Gaskell's book: ~~~~~~~~~~
North and South~ Chapter 42

"Are you a good judge of potatoes and onions? "
"I can assure you, the hot dinners the matron turns out are by no means to be despised."
"Master,there's hot-pot for dinner to-day, win yo' come?"
I have posted the recipe as written by James Martin on the BBC website... I included the alterations I made. Feel free to use a variety of herbs, add stock/wine, and use whatever cut of meat you can find. I hope you will enjoy it as well....

You will need: adapted from James Martin with a few alterations as noted...

2lb best end/middle neck British lamb, sliced into chops( I used boneless leg of lamb)
1 TBS groundnut oil/butter
1 lamb's kidneys,cleaned,cut into bite-sized pieces (I omitted because I couldn't find any...)
3 onions, sliced ½in wedges (I used one LARGE sweet onion and 1 bag small boiler onions)
1 TBS plain flour( I used a heaping TBS)
20 oz freshly boiled water( I used about 2 cups liquid total, including 1/2 cup stock )
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 fresh bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
2lb potatoes, cut into 2cm slices
butter, for drizzling/ brushing potatoes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
paprika(I added a sprinkle on the potatoes for color)
dried rosemary( I added a sprinkle for extra flavor...purely optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
2. Trim the lamb of any excess fat and pat dry with paper towel.
3. Heat the oil and a small knob of butter in a large heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the lamb, two or three pieces at a time, and fry until brown, turning once. Once browned, put them in a wide 3.5-litre casserole. Brown the pieces of kidney. (I skipped the kidney part.)
4. Once the meat and kidney are in the casserole, add the onions to the pan. Fry over medium heat, adding a little more butter to the pan if necessary, for about ten minutes until browned at the edges.
5. Stir in the flour then gradually add the hot water(stock and/or wine if using) and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until the flour and liquid are smoothly blended. Season with salt and pepper and bring to simmering point. Pour over the meat in the casserole.
6. Add the bay leaf and thyme(and rosemary, if using), then arrange the potato slices on top in an overlapping pattern. Season the potatoes and dot the surface with a few dabs of butter. (Sprinkle with some paprika, if using.)
7. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and put in the oven. Cook for 1 hour 30 minutes( I cooked mine for 2 hours.) Towards the end of cooking time, remove the lid and brush the potatoes with a little more butter.Then place under the grill to crisp up. Alternatively, remove the lid and increase the heat to 400F for the last 15 minutes of cooking( I moved my casserole dish to the top rack and cooked it for about 30 minutes, watching it every 10 minutes until I felt that my potatoes were nice and golden.)
8. Remove the bay leaf and thyme before serving.


Speranta said...

Imi place cum arata ...cred ca este delicioasa ! o sa incerc si eu .

Ellie said...

Iti multumesc...doresc sa iti placa si tie:)!~Ellie