by Felicity Cloake from Completely Perfect (Penguin)
One of the great stews of the world. Lancashire hotpot is a dish that makes a virtue of simplicity – even the name is likely to refer to the hodgepodge of ingredients.
Using floury, rather than waxy potatoes for the topping will give a rich, meaty mash next to the meat, while those above turn crisp and golden in the heat of the oven – and two layers of spuds will double the pleasure.
Flour, sugar, salt and pepper, to dust
4–6 best-end or middle-neck lamb or mutton cutlets
400g diced lamb or mutton neck fillet or shoulder
3 largeish floury potatoes, such as maris piper
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
1 bay leaf
2 onions, sliced
500ml good lamb stock
20g butter, melted, plus extra to grease
1. Heat the oven to 190C/fan170C/gas 5. Cover a plate with flour and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Toss the meat to coat. Peel the potatoes and thinly slice.
2. Grease a high-sided casserole dish with butter and put about a third of the potatoes at the base. Season and sprinkle with a little thyme. Top with the meat and bay leaf, followed by the onions, all seasoned in the same way.
3. Arrange the remaining potato slices on top of the onions like overlapping fish scales, and season. Pour enough stock over the potatoes to just come up to the base of the topping (take a piece off to see this better), then brush them with melted butter.
4. Cover and bake for 2 hours (2½ hours for mutton), then uncover and bake for another 30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crisp. Serve with pickled red cabbage.
You can add carrots, celery, even garlic if you like but all this dish really needs is a big dollop of pickled red cabbage. (Nigel added sliced carrots).