Lancashire Hotpot

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Whenever I read Dorothy Hartley’s great book Food in England I become enraged by how deprived we are today to lose so much of our local identity How far removed are the mushy burgers that are possibly poisoning us from the old local dishes and local breeds of animal. This dish was designed specially for the long–boned sheep of the Pennines, but I doubt you will find their long–tailed chops today. Ideally it should be made with mutton which has so much more flavour, but I expect you will have to make do with middle–aged hogget. Still, it is not a bad dish. A nice touch is to place a dozen fresh oysters under the potatoes.

Ingredients

For Four People

  • 2 mutton or lamb chops with their tail bones per person
  • plain flour
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • dripping or oil
  • 1 lamb’s kidney per person
  • 1 onion per chop, sliced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method

Trim the fat from your chops, dredge with flour and season. Fry them in hot dripping or oil till brown on both sides. Stand them vertically in a long casserole with the bones pointing upwards. Throw in the kidneys. Fry the onions lightly and pack among the chops, alternating with layers of sliced carrots.

Arrange the potato slices on top, overlapping them to form a roof. Pour off the fat from the frying pan and make a gravy with a sprinkling of flour and boiling water. Season and add the sugar. Pour into the casserole, cover and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 2 hours.

About 10 minutes before serving, remove the lid and allow the potatoes to brown. This dish is particularly good if made the day before and allowed to cool so that any surplus fat can be removed.

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