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LOCAL FOOD – Lancashire Hot Pot

When meat was expensive people invented recipes and ways of eating which made the most of very small amounts. Two of these methods are so famous they are called by their county name and were popular on either side of the Pennines: Yorkshire Pudding and Lancashire Hot Pot. They are very different to make and to cook but they both had the same result: stretching the family’s small budget and fitting in around working hours.

Lancashire hotpot was invented to make easily in the early morning before going to work in the factories. The aim was to have something ready to eat as soon as the whole family, including children, came home. 

Traditionally it’s made by frying onions in lard, then adding poor cuts of mutton (rather than more expensive lamb) and water to form the base of a stew. Seasoned by salt and perhaps thyme: a herb that grew wild on the hills and could be foraged and dried to use throughout the year. The distinctive feature is that potatoes are sliced and a thick layer arranged on the top to completely cover the liquid and stop it drying out.  

Everything went into one large dish the “HOT POT”: it was named for the big steep sided crockery pot or pippin, which was then left to bake in the oven on a low heat for the entire day. The calories in the fat and potatoes was very filling and the stewed meat was now much more tender in a thick gravy.


“Well,” said Jake, “there’s hot-pots and hot-pots. Ah like ‘em in a flattish deesh, so as t’tatoes can get well browned, and Ah like a nice chop on t’top.

‘Th’art making mi mouth watter, said Joe. Th’ beauty of a hot-pot is its scope, as tha might say. It’s like a good fiddle—that con play any tune that likes wi’ it. Tha’ con put any mortal thing in a hot-pot.”                                                  

 Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1972

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