Sunday, 20 November 2011

Off topic: recipe share

Murillo Hotpot

This is based on a combination of a variety of recipes for Lancashire hotpot. According to my students’ favourite information source, Wikipedia, Lancashire hotpot is “a dish made traditionally from lamb or mutton and onion, topped with sliced potatoes, left to bake in the oven all day in a heavy pot and on a low heat. Originating in the days of heavy industrialisation in Lancashire in the North West of England, it requires a minimum of effort to prepare. It is sometimes served at parties in England, because it is easy to prepare for a large number of people and is relatively inexpensive.”

Well, I’d like to argue on two points . One, it took a fair bit of effort to prepare, seeing as how we Canadians don’t have a variety of fresh, let alone frozen, lamb or mutton to choose from, and so it was quite the task to prepare the meat. I had a 1.5 kg frozen shoulder roast, which I thawed, trimmed the excess fat from, then cubed. If I can’t find lamb or mutton stew meat next time, I may have to get creative -  either make meatballs from ground lamb or use chops and perhaps just pop them in whole, then eat them off the bone when it’s finished cooking. The second point, which is related, is regarding the cost. In the UK (at least where we stayed in Wales a few summers ago), lamb costs about half the price that we pay here, even with the exchange rate. I paid just under $30 for my roast at the local grocery store. However I love lamb, and don’t eat it very often, so it was worth it in my opinion. You could probably also use beef or even deer or moose (hmmm. And add mushrooms....) Also, despite the poor quality of the meat (I tasted it after the panfry stage and was sure the whole casserole would be a write-off), the slow cooking process made it melt-in-the-mouth tender, rather than the chewy mess it was at first.


-about 1kg of lamb or mutton (after it has been trimmed of excess fat) cut into small cubes

-1 large carrot, 1 large rib celery, 1 large parsnip, ½ large Swede (or 1 small turnip), prepped and diced

-3 onions diced or sliced (I only had ½ onion, so I also added 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only)

-about 2 tbsp flour

-2 dried bay leaves

-2 springs fresh thyme or about ¼ tsp dried

-3 large potatoes, sliced about 1cm thick

-EVOO and butter

-salt and pepper to taste

To save time, and because I have no prep space near the woodstove, I started the recipe on the electric stovetop. I added some extra virgin olive oil to each of my 2 largest frying pans. You could also add some butter for flavour. In one I browned the lamb on medium heat, and in the other I sautéed the veggie mix, again on medium heat. As drippings accumulated in the meat pan, I added them to the veggies. When the veggies were medium-soft, I stirred in the flour to thicken, making sure it was all incorporated.

I added the contents of both pans to my oval KitchenAid enamel-coated cast iron roasting dish, and mixed them together. I returned the pans to the heat and browned one side of the potato slices on medium heat (using both pans allowed me to cook all of the potatoes at once). I didn’t need to add any extra fat to the pans.

Next I added 1 pint (570mL) of hot water mixed with ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce** and stirred it in and seasoned with thyme, sea salt and Watkins black pepper. I threw in the bay leaves in and then layered the potato slices like shingles, browned side up. I added salt and pepper the potatoes and dotted them with butter.

I put the lid on the cooker and popped it on the middle of the stove top for an hour, then took the lid off and moved the cooker over to the corner of the stove where it’s cooler for another hour and a half. I’d had the stove going at a moderate temperature (2 logs, damper 1/3 open) all day and kept it at that temp to cook on. I was able to go outside and shovel the deck and driveway (the clean crisp air and the beautiful night stars made me feel less guilty about procrastinating all day until it was dark), and peek in the window once it awhile to check on the cooker.

I could have easily doubled this recipe and still had it fit in my roasting pan. This is my second time cooking with it, and I love it. I paid $39.99 at Canadian Tire (it’s one of those items that is perpetually on sale) and it is fantastic.

**The liquid took a long time to cook down, I think next time I’ll reduce the water or eliminate it altogether, and then I can reduce the amount of time it cooks without a lid as well. I’d also add a touch more Worcestershire sauce.

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