Pudding club: Lancashire hotpot

In a rare happening, I volunteered to make the main for this week’s outing, and so this week’s pudding is not a pudding at all.

What I actually wanted to was lamb shanks, as I have recently discovered these. Well, I ate them ten years ago, in Bistrot les sans culottes ((Nicholas Parsons shouldn’t climb trees)) and much more recently I discovered you can get them in the butchers, they are not particularly expensive, they are delicious, and they are easy to cook.

However, for once I was catering for 6 not 4, and I wasn’t sure I had a pot big enough to cook six lamb shanks, so I decided to do a Lancs hot pot instead.

A dish for that many would have entailed quite a lot of vegetable chopping, so I got the food processor out and fitted the slicing attachment. There is always the danger, when chopping veg for stews in the processor, of chopping too finely and ending up with an unrecognisable mush. I sought to avoid this by using the slicer instead. I used the fine slicer – and next time I will use the coarse slicer instead.

This nicely filled my 5 litre orange le Creuset wedding present pot, and it cooked on the oven floor. I was undermining my veggie Valentines menu by cooking this at the same time for the following day.

Lancs hotpot

In the end, only four of us were there to eat it, but the leftovers hotted up nicely the following day, so it did do six generous portions.

750 grams lamb chunks
olive oil and butter for
3 small onions
4 sticks celery
3 carrots
garlic to taste ((I am rapidly becoming one of those annoying people who ‘likes garlic but it doesn’t like me’))
handful mushrooms
1 large bottle, Manns Brown Ale
3 large potatoes (I had baking potatoes to hand)
Oxo cubes and Worcester sauce

In your stove-to-oven casserole, brown the meat and remove from the heat. Chop the veg and brown it bit by bit, caramelising the onions as much as possible, then return all the veg and meat to the pan.

Add the bottle of beer, two oxo cubes dissolved in a little hot water, and a good glug of Worcester sauce.

Slice the potatoes finely and layer on top of the stew.

Cook the lot for 90 minutes at 180. Or longer, or shorter. Or do what I somehow managed to do, which is actually whack the dial on the oven up to 250 and not notice for 40 minutes. This seems to be a pretty forgiving dish.

Shortly before the end of cooking time, remove from the oven and brush the potatoes with melted butter or dripping. Whack under the grill to get a nice brown finish on the spuds, and serve.

Delish.

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