Traditional Lancashire Hotpot

This has acquired its name from the time when it was baked at home, then wrapped in blankets to keep hot and provide lunch for a day at the races.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course and The Evening Standard Cookbook.

Traditional Lancashire Hotpot
 2 lb (900 g) best end and middle neck of lamb, chopped into chop-sized pieces
 1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
 4 lambs' kidneys, cored, skinned and chopped fairly small
 12 oz (350 g) onions, peeled and cut into half lengthways through the root then cut into ½ inch (1 cm inch) wedges
 1 level tablespoon flour
 1 pint (570 ml) hot water, mixed with ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
 1 bay leaf
 2 sprigs fresh thyme
 2 lb (900 g) potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch (2 cm) slices
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).

You will also need a large lidded flameproof casserole with capacity of 6 pints (3.5 litres).


First trim the lamb of any excess fat and wipe with kitchen paper. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and ¼ oz (5 g) butter until it is very hot, then brown the pieces of lamb two or three at a time until they all have a good brown crust. As they cook, remove them to a wide casserole. Brown the pieces of kidney too, and tuck these in among the meat.

Next, fry the onions – add ¼ oz (5 g) butter to the pan if you need any extra fat – cooking them for about 10 minutes till they turn brown at the edges. Now stir in the flour to soak up the juices, then gradually add the hot water and Worcestershire sauce, stirring or whisking until flour and liquid are smoothly blended. Season with salt and pepper and bring it up to simmering point, then pour it over the meat in the casserole. Add the bay leaf and thyme, then arrange the potato slices on top, in an overlapping pattern like slates on a roof. Season the potatoes and add a few flecks of butter here and there.

Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook near the top of the oven for 1½ hours, then remove the lid and cook for a further 50 minutes.I sometimes finish off the hotpot under the grill. If you brush the potatoes with a little more butter and place the casserole under a hot grill they crisp up and brown beautifully. Alternatively, if you think they're not browning enough during cooking, you can turn the heat in the oven right up during the last 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving.

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