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Sir John Tomlinson’s Lancashire Hotpot

Updated: May 17, 2020

I grew up in the small town of Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, and as a boy, my mother cooked traditional Lancashire Hotpot, still one of my favourite dishes to this day. As a dish, it originated during the nineteenth century to feed the workers at the cotton mills. I fondly remember Monday lunchtimes (dinnertimes, to be more accurate) when the house was full of clean wet washing drying in the backyard, by the fire, and up near the kitchen ceiling, with the aroma of the hotpot cooking in the oven. Unforgettable! It’s nutritious and has a unique, delicious taste, not surprising given that it’s been eaten for nearly two centuries by Lancastrians – plenty of time to refine the recipe. It’s at its best when restricted to just three ingredients: Lamb (neck and kidney), potato, and onion. Please refrain from complicating this dish; I can assure you there’s great virtue in simplicity in this case.



900g best end of neck of lamb

900g potatoes, peeled

3 large onions, peeled

Salt and pepper


¾ pint of water

Pre-heat the oven to 170degree C

Cut the lamb into cutlets and remove surplus fat. Peel and core kidneys and cut into slices. Thinly slice potatoes and onions. Cover the base of a 3 pint casserole dish with a layer of potato slices, followed by a layer of onion slices. Stand the lamb on top interspersed with kidney pieces, making a third layer. Then a layer of the remaining onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then a 5th and final layer of attractively overlapping potato slices. Pour the water in, cover with a tight fitting lid, and cook for 1½ hours. Remove the lid, brush the potatoes with a little melted butter, and cook for an additional 45 mins, or until the potatoes are golden brown. Serves at least 4.

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