Saturday, 1 January 2011

Sunday Lunch not another Roast

The oldest man made compound?
Terracotta or Burnt Earth, well they had to put the fire
on something 
Started Sunday 2nd January 2010.  900 am
Words 590

Sunday Lunch and it's the New Year dilemma of what to have.  The traditional diet of roast meat with everything at this time of year has probably run it's course.  The adverts for a thousand and one things to make with mayonnaise have probably been exhausted.   If you are still using the Turkey from Christmas day it is probably pretty foul by now.

The choice for today is a hot pot.  This is not a mis-translation of the French Pot-au-feu which uses similar ingredients but in a different way.  I understand a hot pot to be of alternate layers of meat with vegetables (and or mushrooms) and potatoes.   The final layer of the dish is potato.  The "cake" is layered meat first into a deep casserole dish with a lid.  The number of layers depends upon the amount of ingredients you have,  the minimum should be four layers.

The next question what sort of meat should be in the hot pot.  The most famous version is Lancashire Hot Pot made with Lamb.  Even with this some versions stipulate lamb chops others cubed lamb.  Cubed Beef , with or without kidney,  and large open cup mushrooms  cooked with onions is a good combination.  Smaller closed cup mushrooms are the same thing as the large open cup only picked earlier.  More exotic types of mushrooms such as ceps can be used but in smaller quantities as they have a  stronger flavour.  I think the trick to a good hot pot no matter what meat is the dish it is cooked in.

I prefer to use a Terracotta dish. I have  a Henry Watson Pottery (as shown in the picture) model which is made in Suffolk.  I bought mine in a little shop in Clare, Suffolk  that is a throw back to a traditional Ironmongers shop.  In Hudgies Hardware you can buy anything from a gate hinge to preserving pans.  Also  log baskets and cast iron fire-backs with an old  scene of charcoal burners that I purchased.  Interesting experience transporting the fire back  home in the passenger seat well of my then 15 year old Mach I MR2 as the boot was only big enough for a set of golf clubs.  A slight digression, there but you can spend many minutes scratching your head about the purpose of a strangely shaped piece of ironmongery until the owner put you out of your quandary with his informed advice.  

I think the secret of a good hot pot is that final removal of the lid about 20 minutes before the end of cooking so the top of layer of potatoes can crisp up.  It also concentrate the flavour of the stock. Hot Pot is good when served with winter greens, cabbage or Brussels Sprouts (should be cheaper now Christmas is over and all those consignments that didn't reach the shops because of the snow finally arrive).

As to the recipe I am experimenting with putting them on a static page    (Food).  I am at present fiddling about with Kindlising and PDFing my recipe so that it can be downloaded for free.  So should be there very soon.  Loath to move from the chair at the moment as the cat has gone to sleep on my lap.

First Sunday posting of the new year done!  Food question guaranteed to get a pub debate going or almost fight.  And that the blokes fighting, surprising how many of us do cook in my local! .

 So.......... What should Sheppard's Pie be made of ? Beef or Lamb.


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