Lamb and Leek Hotpot

The first time I came across a hotpot was when Marcus Wareing prepared it in the first Great British Menu series. Even though he took great care to research his subject and prepared it most lovingly I couldn’t help but turn up my nose at it. It’s as if the original cook thought it’s a great idea to throw every single root vegetable under the sun into the pot with a bit of meat in a slapdash way and bung it in the oven, hoping that in a few hours his meal would somehow be magically transformed into something wonderful. Instead all the vegetables turn into the same colour and mysteriously taste the same, seeing that it’s difficult to discern between a potato, turnip and who knows what else that’s been cooked ad infinitum.

As you can deduce, the whole idea of the Lancashire hotpot didn’t tempt me at all. Browsing through loads of recipe books (because that’s just the crazy thing I do in my free time) I came across this recipe. My main problem with it was that it called for double (heavy) cream. Now don’t get me wrong. I love cream but paired with lamb which is fatty, the dish suddenly became ultra-rich and just too much to stomach. What’s more the sauce wasn’t visually appealing. Why? The stock and cream refused to become friends and instead cream globules would drift in the stock sauce.

After a few failed attempts getting the Knorr stock and cream to merge (racist I tell you!) I decided to substitute the cream with white wine. Voila! Suddenly the once weighty dish transformed into something lighter and it just �� worked. The leek-sandwiched lamb is delicately flavoured which basically comes with two types of potatoes. The potatoes at the bottom of the pot soaks up all the leek and lamb juices and the ones on top are buttered and slightly crispy.

Getting too confident (read lazy and pushed for time) one day, I decided to skip the first step where you have to fry the leeks and onion in butter first. I rationalised that the vegetables will be cooked for almost 3 hours, so why bother with the frying? Big mistake. One, the frying takes the vegetables’ volume down. Instead it was a huge struggle to get all the ingredients to fit in the pot I usually prepared it in. In fact, I had to take some potatoes out in order to accommodate it. Two, the leeks and onion were crunchy, yes, even after such long cooking time. I have learnt my lesson!

Download and/or print the recipe! Click HERE.

Lamb & Leek Hotpot
Winter is almost upon us – time to cook comforting dishes!
Recipe by: Michelle Minnaar
Published: 4 November 2011
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 hours
Total Cooking Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Weight Watchers Recipe: 87 ProPoints, Per Serving: 14 ProPoints
Serving size: 387.6g, Calories per serving: 543, Fat per serving: 24.8g
Serves 6

50g (2 oz) butter

400g (14 oz) leeks, trimmed and sliced

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

800g (1� lb) boneless lamb shoulder, cubed

15ml (1 tbsp) plain flour

15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

800g (1� lb) waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into �cm (� inch) slices

5ml (1 tsp) chopped thyme

300ml (� pint) vegetable stock

150ml (5 fl oz) white wine

  1. Melt half of the butter in a 3.5 litre (6 pint) flameproof casserole. Add the leeks and onion, stirring to coat with the butter. Cover the casserole and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the lamb in the flour to coat lightly. Lift out the leek and onion using a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the olive oil to the casserole and heat it, then brown the meat in batches with the garlic and plenty of salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, take out the meat and set aside.
  3. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the casserole with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the leek mixture over the potatoes and level the leek layer. Next, add all the meat on top of the leeks, and then spoon the remaining leeks over the lamb. Arrange the remaining potatoes on top in an overlapping layer, sprinkle with herbs, then pour in the stock and wine.
  4. Return the casserole to the heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven at 170�C (fan 150�C/340�F/gas 3) for 1 hour 50 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and dot the potatoes with the rest of the butter. Cook the hotpot, uncovered, for a further 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown. Serve immediately.
Serving Suggestion
  • The hotpot is a meal on its own but feel free to prepare some vegetables on the side if you like.
  • Please do not skip the first step. It�s vital that the leeks and onion get fried a bit first.

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  1. Sonia says

    I’ve made lamb shank hot pot which was also delicious. There are so many variations that I think it would be impossible to get to the routes of the traditional Lancashire hot pot. As long as people are still cooking the dish then it’s a survivor I say, naturally it will evolve, develop, and people will add their own twist. Don’t know if the link will work but here goes:

    or go to

  2. says

    I love the sound of this hotpot – leeks and lamb go so well together. I know exactly what you mean about the leeks and onions not cooking despite 3 hours in the oven though – I’ve also learnt my lesson!!

  3. Clare says

    Thank you – this was perfect timing. I was browsing tastespotting this morning while trying to put together a shopping list for the weekend.

    We’ve just eaten this for dinner, and the result was four empty plates and a happy family. Yum!

  4. says

    Hahaha! I used to work for Marcus back in the day so this was most amusing!
    I would advise against using lamb at the start of Feb though.
    Venison would be much preferable and more economical in the winter months.
    This is a nice recipe though…. I am an advocate of slow cooking, “sous vide” to be precise, cooking in a vacuum pouch in a waterbath.

  5. says

    Thanks for your input, Olly. I haven’t had much opportunity to experiment with venison yet and have never heard of “sous vide” up until now but I’m always game for new cooking methods. 😉

  6. Chris says

    I’ve been making Lancashire Hot Pot for decades and use lamb shoulder chops. It never occurred to me to use leeks instead of the onions and I will try that variation. My recipe hails from the Time-Life Good Cook – Lamb book and even suggests slipping some fresh oysters under the potatoes. The potatoes are usually sliced very thinly to allow them to crisp.

    Traditionally, a hot-pot is served with pickled red cabbage as a condiment and – frankly – it’s a terrific combination. I am originally from Cheshire, but Lancashire hot-pot was a big favourite around my grandmother’s table.

    • Sam says

      I’ve never made a hotpot with oyster, but having living in Manchester I’ve heard all about it. At what point do you add the oyster to the dish? Is it before serving or is it slow cooked with the dish?

      • Chris says

        This recipe looks quite old to me and is attributed to Joan Poulson ” Old Lancashire Recipes.” It calls for mutton or lamb chops, bay leaf, lard, S&P, carrots, potatoes, 12 shucked live oysters and water (no stock). So, probably a meal with an eye to the budget. The oysters are slipped under the potatoes layered on the top just before going into the oven. However, it cooks for 2 hours. I did try it once, but I think I added the oysters closer to serving time and, I don’t recall what I thought of them.

        The final sentence of the recipe suggests “take off the lid about 30 minutes before serving to ensure the potatoes get right brown”.

        I’ve made this dish with stock, a combination of stock and wine, stock cube and other variations – frankly – it’s not necessary to add enhancements, the lamb and vegetables creates a brothy gravy that’s just delicious. Although, I do add fresh herbs, thyme or marjoram are particularly nice.

        Michelle – your pictures are gorgeous and make me want to rush out to buy lamb!

  7. Pete from Australia says

    I LOVE this recipe and have made it numerous times, just sensational. I have however made the following changes.

    1. I add wine as the leeks finish cooking and let it cook off.
    2. After removing the leek/onion mixture I add the oil and cook the garlic gently and then scoop it out and mix it with the leeks.
    3. I add juice of 1/2 a lemon with the stock.

    These 3 changes are by no means an improvement on the original, I just like the reduced wine taste and what’s not to love about lamb, potatoes and lemon?

    To anyone who thinks the original would be good to try, do it and you’ll fall in love with it like me and my family and friends have.


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