Heather's Monthly Articles

British Counties Recipes

March 2019

This month, I thought we’d take a look at some tasty old time British recipes named for the counties from which they originated.

First up is Lancashire Hotpot, a two-hundred-year-old northern classic originally made with mutton. It was the perfect meal for the busy family working in the local cotton mills, as it needed little attention and could be left to stew slowly over an open fire, and be ready for when the family returned home at the end of the day. Nowadays, lamb is used more frequently than mutton.

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Lancashire Hotpot
Serves 4
1 lb 'scrag end' or best end neck of lamb, cubed
1 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and fairly thickly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups water (or beef stock)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp of flour
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the lamb in a heavy saucepan with 2 tablespoons of very hot oil over medium-high heat, then remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add the sliced onions and fry until they begin to brown. Sprinkle flour into the pan with the onions and stir to soak up the fat. Turn off the heat and add the water (or beef stock) slowly while stirring vigorously to prevent lumps forming. Add a dash of Worcestershire Sauce; salt and pepper to taste. Then mix the onion, meat and stock together and stir in a bay leaf.

To compose the hotpot, alternate layers of the meat and onion mixture with the sliced potatoes in an ovenproof dish. The top layer should be potato. Cover and bake at 325°F for 2-3 hours. Remove cover and continue to bake until the top layer of potato browns. Serve hot with traditional condiments as chutney, pickled red cabbage or pickled onions.

Our next recipe also dates back to the 19th century. This time though it’s from the south of England. Bedfordshire Clanger is a loaf sized meal in one. It has a savory filling at one end and sweet filling at the other, and once made a perfect lunchtime dinner and desert for workers to take out into the fields. Unlike Lancashire Hotpot, which is still a popular dish, the Clanger seems to have dropped out of fashion.

Here’s a recipe from the Good Food website.

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Bedfordshire Clanger
14oz. shortcrust pastry
One beaten egg
2 tsp granulated sugar

Savoury filling
1 chopped onion (small)
1 tbsp lard
8oz. minced pork
1 tsp dried sage
1 cooking apple
1/3 cup cooked peas

Sweet filling
2 apples
2 tbsp superfine sugar
Grated orange rind
3/8 cup sultanas

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Add the onion and lard to a frying pan and cook for two to three minutes. Add in the meat and sage and stir frequently for five minutes. Add the chopped cooking apple to the pork and cook for a further five minutes, before adding the peas. Leave to cool.

To make the sweet side, chop and peel the apple and add in the sugar, orange and sultanas.

Cut a thick strip of pastry sized around 12.5 x 1cm, shaped in a large oval. Make a separate strip into a wall in the middle of the other, dividing up the two sections. Add the savory filling to one side of the wall at one end, and the sweet to the other. Fold over one half of the pastry on top of the other and cut off the excess pastry to make a large rectangle. Push the sides of the pastry to seal it, and brush the pastry with a beaten egg, and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F then lower the heat to 375°F and bake for a further 25 minutes.

Staffordshire, a landlocked county in the middle of England, is where we head next. It’s known for its pottery, bull terriers and oat cakes. Staffordshire Oatcakes are a savory pancake, also dating back to the 19th century. They were the fast food of their day, having been sold directly to customers in the streets from the house windows.

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Staffordshire Oatcakes
Makes 10 large oatcakes
2 cups milk + 2 cups warm water
1 cup finely ground oats
2/3 cup strong wholemeal flour
7/8 cup strong white flour
1 tsp fine salt
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast or 3 1/2 tsp fresh yeast
Fat (lard, bacon drippings, clarified butter, vegetable oil)

Heat the milk with the same amount of water in a pan until it’s boiling. Meanwhile, mix the oats, flours and salt in a large bowl. Mix the yeast with a little of the warm liquid and then cover and leave until frothy. Stir into the dry ingredients and then whisk in the remaining liquid until smooth. Cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour until bubbly, or overnight in the fridge.

Grease a large frying pan with a little fat and put on a medium-high heat. When hot enough for the batter to sizzle, give the bowl a quick whisk, then add a ladleful to the pan and tilt to spread it out. Cook until dry on top, then loosen the edges and carefully turn it over. Add any toppings you would like to melt or heat through (cheese, tomato, onion, bacon, sausage or egg for instance) and cook until golden on the bottom. Fold over and eat, or allow to cool then cover and store in the fridge or freezer, reheating in the microwave, or as they did in the days of old between two plates over a pan of boiling water.

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