Spicy, Warming Lamb Hotpot with Sweet Potatoes Recipe
This is truly one of my most favourite main meal dishes, especially on a cold rainy Autumn or Winter's day, when you feel chilled and soaked to the bone then this is definitely the cure - it's also ideal when you have people coming for dinner as you can prepare it well in advance (see my tip at the end of the recipe) and since everything you need for a hearty meal is all in one pot there's no rushing around, just take it out of the oven and serve - perfect!
I believe in sourcing as much of our food locally, Lamb is a very popular meat in the UK and since we have such marvellous Welsh lamb it is ideal in keeping our carbon footprint as low as possible. I'm supporting the UK home team here and cooking with succulent Welsh Mountain Lamb, onions, potatoes and peppers from our allotment, pearl barley from my home in Scotland, and Sweet Potatoes grown right here in England.
This is a traditional English meal with a heat twist which I've been making for nearly twenty years, it's been a hit with everyone who's tasted it, the lamb is so tender you don't even need a knife to cut it and the ginger in the Hotpot produces a soft deep heat which warms your tummy and then spreads all the way down to your toes.
900g / 2lb Boned Leg of Organic Welsh Lamb
350g / 12oz Organic White Onions
4 Organic Garlic Cloves, crushed
2 Organic Red Peppers, chopped in large chunks
700g / 1½lb Organic Potatoes
45ml / 3 tablespoons of Oil
3 teaspoons of Ground Ginger
3 teaspoons of Cinnamon or 1 Cinnamon Stick
50g / 2oz Organic Pearl Barley
1 litre / 1¾ pints / 4 cups of Beef Stock
1 or 2 splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
Making the Lamb Hotpot:
- Trim the 900g / 2lb of Lamb (the dogs love when I cook this) and cut it into 5cm / 2 inch cubes.
- Roughly chop the 350g / 12oz of Onions.
- Crush the 4 Garlic Cloves.
- De-seed and roughly chop the 2 Red Peppers into large chunks.
- Peel and cut the Potatoes into halves, if they're any smaller they will break down during cooking.
That's the preparation done so now down to the cooking:
- Heat 45ml / 3 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof casserole pot.
- In small batches gently brown the pieces of Lamb. If you put too much in the pot in one go the meat will steam/braise instead of browning. You also want those lovely little bits of meat that gather on the bottom of the pan and the juices from the meat that will then infuse the vegetables and barley so small batches and gently does it.
- Turn the meat once it has a gently crust to it which enhances the flavour of the Hotpot, see the video below - I wish we had the technology so that you could smell that wonderful lamb aroma that's filling the kitchen, but at least you can hear it sizzle if you click on the video link below. Maybe I'll get brave and do a whole meal by video soon.
Heavy duty pots to last a lifetime:
- Once browned remove the lamb from the heat to rest while you brown the rest of the lamb, adding more oil if needed.
- Once your pan is empty throw in your onions (carefully, you don't want splashed by hot oil) and your crushed garlic and saute gently, The onions will start to soften and take on a brown colour from the meat juices, the smell at this point is wonderful.
- Add the peppers, potatoes, 2 teaspoons of ginger, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick and the 50g / 2oz of pearl barley.
- Give everything a good stir and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the 4 cups of beef stock, add a splash or two of Worcestershire Sauce and plenty of seasoning, especially the ground black pepper, another vital source of that heat that we're after.
- Bring everything to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and replace the meat.
It should now look like this:
- If you have a pot with a lid that provides a good seal then that's great, if you're not sure then place a piece of foil over the pot and put the lid on top to make sure that you don't lose all that lovely gravy. I once used a pot that had a small air hole which I hadn't noticed and when I came to get the Hotpot out of the oven it was bone dry and inedible - such a disaster.
- Cook for 1 hour 10 minutes.
- Be very careful when removing the foil as a lot of steam will have built up.
- Meanwhile take 1 or 2 large sweet potatoes (I use 2 because I adore the sweet potatoes when cooked this way), peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large chunks.
- When the 1 hour 10 minutes is up, remove from the oven and carefully taste and alter the seasoning if necessary.
- You can also adjust your gravy at this stage, adding more beef stock or adding a touch of cornflour (see my Tips below) if you think it needs it.
- Tuck the chunks of sweet potato down into the gravy, don't use your fingers it will hurt.
- Replace the foil and lid and put back in the oven for a further 30-35 minutes.
If you put the sweet potato in before this stage they will dissolve into the gravy and you don't want that because they are divine.
Just before serving re-check your seasoning and remove the cinnamon stick if you used it.
Adjusting the Gravy:
If your gravy is too thin it is easily adjusted by taking 1-2 teaspoons of Cornflour mixed with 3-4 teaspoons of water. Add a little at a time and stir, once it cooks into the gravy it will start to thicken, keep adjusting until you reach the thickness you prefer.
Preparing in advance:
If you want to prepare this in advance (a) do not add the Sweet Potatoes, and (b) cool, cover and refrigerate the dish.
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4.
- On the hob add 150ml / 5 fl.oz of beef stock and bring it to the boil.
- Taste, adjust seasoning and gravy if needed.
- Cover with a piece of foil and the lid, and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Add the Sweet Potatoes and cook for a further 30 minutes.