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Hot Pot: as Cheap and Easy as You Like
Hot Pot is a convenient, nutritious one pot meal that allows you to use ingredients you have at hand or whatever takes your fancy. Vary it as you like, and make it as cheap and easy as you like!
How much time and money you spend preparing a hot pot depends on the meat and vegetables you use. Ideal are red stewing meats of pork, beef or lamb (of which traditional Lancashire hot pot is made), or any cheap cut that tends to be tough—slow cooking gives a tender and succulent texture.
Use any vegetables you have at hand, or what's in season or going cheap.
I've used carrots, peas, green beans and celeriac (also called celery root or bulb).
For meat, I found some pork escalopes on offer at my local supermarket. These I cut into cubes diagonally against the grain, which prevents toughness.
There are no strict rules on what to put in, but I've given a list of ingredients as a general guideline. Adjust freely according to taste—you might prefer more meat than vegetables, for example. Salt and pepper suffice as seasoning, but I've added fresh parsley and thyme that were left over from a meal I made a couple of days earlier. The garlic and Worcestershire sauce can be left out, but always include onion to enhance flavor.
This recipe cooks the ingredients in their natural juices, but I've given instructions at the end in case you'd like to cook in sauce.
The quantities given serve three to four people and fit into a 1.7 liter (3 pint) ovenproof dish.
- 15g (1/2 oz) fat (lard or dripping)
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Approx. 300g (3/4 lb) mixed vegetables, sliced or chopped
- 200g (1/2 lb) meat, cubed
- Fresh herbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 5 medium potatoes, sliced
1. Heat the fat in a deep pan over a medium flame.
2. Throw in the onion, garlic, vegetables, meat and herbs, and toss quickly until the meat is very lightly browned.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add Worcestershire sauce.
4. Put the meat and vegetable mixture aside and peel and slice the potatoes.
5. Spread a layer of the meat and vegetable mixture over the bottom of an ovenproof dish and top with a layer of sliced potatoes. Keep layering, finishing off with potatoes. Sprinkle each potato layer with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Brush the top layer of potatoes with melted fat.
7. Cover the dish and place in a slow oven, 150 C (300 F, Gas Mark 2), for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
8. Remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes so the potatoes are crisp. Alternatively, finish under the grill.
To Cook in Sauce
If you'd prefer a sauce rather than only the juices, do the following:
- Add 15g (1/2 oz) flour after frying the ingredients in step 2.
- Over a medium flame, keep stirring for about three minutes, then add 200ml (a little less than 1/2 pint) stock and continue to stir until it thickens. If using instant stock, omit salt in step 3 and only salt the top layer of potatoes.
All images by Camlo De Ville
© 2015 Camlo De Ville