Old-fashioned Hotpot with a suet-crust pastry lid
This is classic North England food, and perfect for a cold day. It was just missing a generous helping of picked red cabbage on the side, but we made do with HP Sauce instead 😊
I don’t have a recipe for this. I’ve made it so many times that I fumble my way through it. My version is based on stewing / braising steak, cooked with potatoes, carrots and stock. And that’s it. Using a pressure cooker helps to keep the cook time down.
It looks gorgeous when it comes out of the oven, the pastry thick and crispy on top. The texture is like that of a cobbler, or a thin scone layer, and when you crack through it, the simple beef-potato-carrot stew underneath is divine.
Here’s how I make it. To serve 6 – 8 people, I use around 1kg of steak. This time is was cross-cut blade steak, but any braising / stewing cut is good. I chopped it into small chunks, approx. 2cm wide, and tossed them into the pressure cooker with a slug of vegetable oil. Stir until they all have a little colour and then add thinly sliced potatoes. I used 6 small-medium sized. Add around 1.5 litres of light stock (I used stock powder added to boiling water), a grind of salt and pepper, and bring it to the boil. Put on the lid and bring it up to pressure, then cook for around twenty minutes.
Bring it back down again, remove the lid, and squish the potato slices a little with a slotted spoon, so that they thicken the gravy. If it’s still thin, turn up the heat and let it reduce. Check the seasoning.
Meanwhile, chop 4 – 6 carrots, and another 4 – 6 potatoes and pop them in a large roasting tin. Pour the meat slurry on top and stir gently to mix. Cooking it this way gives you an array of textures, with the carrot still having a little bite.
Suet crust pastry is so easy to make, and I took this recipe from Delia Smith’s Cookery Course again, to get the ratio of suet to flour. On this occasion I used around 7oz of vegetable suet (the entire pack), to 14oz of self-raising flour. Mix lightly, then add cold water slowly until the dough comes cleanly away from the bowl. Rest five minutes, and then roll out. It is a much thicker pastry than shortcrust. The hardest part of the entire procedure was the nerve-wracking moment when I lifted it from the worksurface to drape lovingly over the hotpot, like a thick blanket.
Forty-five minutes in the oven later – and a delicious, carb-filled almost-winter dinner 😊
A friend of mine was telling me about chocolate truffles, and now I want some. I’ll have to see what’s available to add to my online order due at the weekend. If I’m very lucky, I might be able to get some Lindt Lindor truffles. Nom nom. We are almost three weeks through Lockdown. I should definitely celebrate with chocolate!
New Zealand is under Lockdown for at least four weeks. This blog intends to avoid the bad news about rising numbers of victims. It focuses instead on food, and the challenges of cooking fresh meals every day – with the ingredients from my larder. A much nicer message 😊