This recipe results in an extra luscious Lancashire hotput thanks to the celeriac and the fortified wine. If you like lambs’ kidneys, and you can find them, add three to this recipe – simply fry separately after you’ve fried the stewing lamb and add to the rest of the meat. Follow this link for the low down on kidneys.
A more historic, poetic name for this dish would be Potato-lacking Stew After the Guise Of Beyond The Sea – the name given to it originally in A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye written in 1545. The instructions were to “take a potell of fayre water and as much wyne and a brest of mutton chopt in peces, than set it on the fyre and scome it clene, than put thereto a disshe ful of sliced onions and a quantite of synamon, gynger, Cloues and Mace, with salte and stew them all togither……
…..and then serue them with soppes.
Obviously, they didn’t have any potatoes in England in 1545, so they served the stew over soppes – toasted bread. And I’m not sure that this isn’t better.
Try it. If you have any leftover stew (minus the potatoes) it is delicious the following day, reheated with a little fortified red wine (vermouth, port, marsala….) and served over a trencher of olive-oil-moistened toast.
For four to six
- 1 small celeriac, peeled and diced
- 800g/1 lb 12 oz stewing lamb – ask the butcher to cut into small pieces, approximately 1½”/6 cm cubed
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large carrots, scraped down the side and chopped into discs
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 tbsps plain flour
- 2 tsp golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 360 ml/1½ cups beef stock made with two beef stock cubes
- 60 ml/¼ cup red vermouth
- 2 bay leaves, or any of the spices suggested in A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and mace
- Couple of walnuts of butter
- Olive oil to fry
- Indonesian long pepper
Preheat the oven to 150°C (use the aga simmering oven)
- Brown the lamb in a large casserole, remove, together with all the juices, and keep warm
- Put a couple of walnuts of butter in the same casserole and fry the onion, carrots and celeriac, stirring. Add the sugar, stir again and fry until the onion is soft and translucent and the vegetables are caramelised.
- Add the lamb and its juices back into vegetables, stir in the flour, and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
- Stir in the vermouth.
- Then slowly add the stock, stirring well all the time to avoid lumps
- Add the bay leaves
- Simmer gently on the hob, uncovered, to reduce for five minutes or so.
- Meanwhile peel the potatoes and slice them quite thinly.
- Arrange them on top of the stew, grind over the pepper, generously, and dab over butter
- Cover, and cook slowly in the oven for, at least, a couple hours. Within reason the longer you cook, the tenderer the meat will be. At this stage you can freeze – or put in the fridge for a couple of days.
- Uncover the hotpot and cook until the potato is golden – the hotter the oven the shorter this time will be. If you turn the oven up to 180°C it will take about 20 minutes for example.