“Lancashire Hotpot, what could be more a synonym of Northern cooking, as grim and earthy as the life of a sheepherder, was the standard lamb dish….Hotpot was named for the big steep sided crockery pot or pippin the lamb and potatoes and onions cooked in all day in the fireplace when the denizens were in the tin mines or in the fields or cotton and linen mills.”
Lucia Adams, Bird’s Custard Island: A Culinary Memoir
“Well,” said Jake, “there’s hot-pots and hot-pots. Ah like ‘em in a flattish deesh, so as t’tatoes can get well browned, and Ah like a nice chop on t’top.
‘Th’art making mi mouth watter, said Joe. Th’ beauty of a hot-pot is its scope, as tha might say. It’s like a good fiddle—that con play any tune that likes wi’ it. Tha’ con put any mortal thing in a hot-pot.”
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1972
Lancashire hotpot is a dish completely devoid of pretensions. Its exact makeup is a subject for debate; meat and potatoes, yes, but what kind of meat and should other vegetables be involved. All agree that it is a warm, filling and hearty one-pot meal. Easy to prepare and inexpensive, its stick-to-your-ribs quality made it a working class staple. Because of Lancashire’s proximity to Ireland, it was said to be one of the first English counties to embrace potatoes, and the hotpot is a good example.
Essentially a lamb and potato stew, Lancashire hotpot features a crown of sliced potatoes underneath which lies a rich gravy with chunks of meat, onion, and, if you like, perhaps some carrots or other root vegetables. The hotpot was traditionally left to cook all day over low heat, although that is not strictly necessary. The recipe here calls for lamb chops; mutton was more commonly used in days of yore.
Nothing will warm you up quicker on a cold winter’s night than Lancashire hotpot, and if there’s a glass of robust red wine to be had, so much the better.