Lancashire Hotpot

The hotpots of my childhood in post-war London remain through the years as memories of ‘lumps of fat in washing-up water’ as my brother used to call them as he tipped our platefuls out of the window. How different are the refined, and more expensive, stews of today. The recipe below is not authentic Lancashire.


  • lb (700 g) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • lb (700 g) lean lamb, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 8 oz (225 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pints (1.1 litres) good meat or vegetable stock
  • A little melted butter


Trim any fat from the lamb and brown it quickly in the heated oil. Remove from the pan, add the onions and the garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook for a few more minutes, then season.

Put the lamb back into the pan and cover with a good meat or vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and put into a casserole dish.

Cover with the potatoes. Brush with the melted butter and cover with a piece of wet greaseproof paper.

Cook for 1½ hours in a slow oven (gas mark 3/325°F/170°C). Remove the paper and cook for a further 20 minutes allowing the potatoes to brown.

Sir Francis Drake brought the first potatoes home to Queen Elizabeth. An outbreak of scurvy among the sailors caused the feeding of the precious cargo to the crew. The raw potatoes saved their lives but the Queen received only one plant. The story goes that the cook threw away the tubers and cooked the leaves.