Have you ever eaten Lancashire Hotpot? It is a casserole dish consisting of layers of meat (beef or lamb or lamb with lamb kidney), a root vegetable (carrot, turnip, leeks, etc.), and sliced potatoes.
Then you put the lid on the pot, and place it in a slow oven for several hours. The lid is removed for final hour of cooking to allow juices to thicken, and to brown the top layer of potatoes.
Quantities in a Lancashire Hotpot don’t have to be exact:
- enough lamb for everyone
- potatoes — double or a bit more of the amount of lamb
- onions — about 1/3 the amount of potatoes
“In spring 2011, a loose campaign started forming to propose that the dish be awarded European “Protected Geographical Indication” status. This would mean that commercially the dish could only be prepared for sale in Lancashire, and according to certain methods. The campaign appears to have been launched by people such as Steve Dean, managing director of Lancashire County Developments Limited (LCDL) , chef Nigel Haworth, and Paul Nuttall, European MEP for Lancashire.
“Lancashire Hotpot is usually dated back to the start of industrialisation in the area, from the 1750s onwards. It really was designed as an oven dish from the start, as opposed to a stew in a pot over flame. It required potatoes being widely enough accepted to be available, and access to an oven (access to an oven was a luxury throughout much of history.)
“In the television programme “Coronation Street”, the character of Betty Williams is famous for the hotpot she serves at the Rovers Return Inn.” [Lancashire Hotpot-CooksInfo]
Country File Magazine tells us, “What distinguishes the traditional hotpot, though, is its steep-sided cooking vessel, after which the dish gets its name. The pot cradles the long bones of local sheep, which lend flavour to the sliced potato topping. The traditional protruding bones make it an eye-catching, if slightly spooky looking, dish.
“No one knows exactly how or when the hotpot came about, but what’s certain is that it was popular when Lancashire’s cotton industry was at its height in the 19th century. The dish was quick and simple to prepare and could be left to its own devices while its makers – female mill workers – were toiling in the mills and factories that propelled England’s economic prosperity. Hours later, when they returned, the hotpot would have turned into a flavoursome stew, the lamb gently fusing with its bedfellow ingredients. Oysters, which were cheap at that time, were sometimes added to bulk out the mixture.
“Hotpot kept miners going too, the pot being wrapped in a blanket to ensure it was still warm at lunchtime. In the novel North and South, Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell described how Mr Thornton, a mill owner, dined on hotpot with his workers : “I never made a better dinner in my life… and for some time, when ever that special dinner recurred in their dietary, I was sure to be met by these men, with a ‘Master, there’s hotpot for dinner today win yo’ come?’”