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How to Make Mouth-Watering Lamb Hotpot

This dish is often referred to as Lancashire Hotpot. Indeed its most famous example is "Betty's Hotpot" from the Rovers Return pub on the TV show Coronation Street which is set in the Lancashire area. If anybody knows whether "Betty's Hotpot" is real or just a fictional dish from the TV show please let me know through the "comments" area at the bottom of this post.

The secret recipe for Betty's Hotpot was published on this blog about a year ago. Now in the grip of what has (so far) been a mild winter in southern Ontario I decided to revisit the recipe and make the best tasting hotpot that I could, with no expense spared. Actually it cost me about $20 to make a delicious and filling meal for four. I decided not to follow Betty's recipe exactly but I still cooked an exceptionally good hotpot. Here is how I made it:

Ingredients
  • 1 medium leg of lamb
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • Seasoning (Daddies Sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, Sarson's malt vinegar, bay leaves, basil, Worcestershire Sauce, soy sauce)

Preparation
  • Remove the meat from the bone, trim off the fat. Dice the meat into small cubes. Chop the bone into pieces about a couple of inches long using a meat cleaver
  • Boil the bone vigourously in 2 litres of water for at least an hour, preferably longer, to make lamb stock.
  • Toss the chopped lamb meat in a little oil and then again in flour, then brown the meat in hot oil
  • Slice the potatoes fairly thinly and parboil (i.e. cook lightly until not quite soft - I used a microwave to do this)
  • Slice the carrots thinly and parboil or steam until not quite soft
  • Dice the onions and fry in hot oil until soft but not browned
  • In a large ovenproof dish, layer the ingredients starting with meat at the bottom and ending with a layer of potato on top
  • As the stock nears the end of its boil make the volume back up to 2 litres by adding boiling water, reduce the heat to a simmer add seasoning and continue to simmer for a while. Taste the stock. When it tastes really good it is ready
  • Pour in the stock until it just covers the top layer of potato. Make enough stock so that you have some left over to top up the dish later
  • Cover the dish with a lid and place in an oven at 350F and cook for at least 2 hours. Top up the stock as necessary during cooking. Half an hour before cooking is complete, remove the lid to allow the top layer of potatoes to brown.

John's Notes
Traditionally, neck of lamb is used, but this cut is not available in supermarkets in my area. I used leg of lamb instead because I needed the bone to make the lamb stock. Nota bene - as the Romans said to Queen Boadicea - the secret to a really good hotpot is in the stock. That is why I recommend tasting the stock before adding it to the dish. If the stock doesn't set your tastebuds alight the finished hotpot won't either.

The end result in my kitchen was a very, very tasty dinner. The meat was soft, tender and full of flavour. The vegetables were similarly well-cooked and full of flavour. It is important to parboil the potatoes and carrots before adding them to the dish to ensure that they cook fully and to make sure they keep their flavour.

This is one of the best; I'll be making it over and over again in my kitchen.

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