The first time I came across a lamb and leek 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.
After a few failed attempts getting the Knorr stock and cream to merge 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!