There are as many variations of this dish around as you can imagine but they’re all relatively similar and reflect people’s tastes rather than a diversification of the recipe. You see Lobscouse, originally Labskause, goes back to a time when the high seas were the major trade routes and sailors spent months away from home at a time. On the docks of Liverpool there’d be many pots of this stew; all containing cheap cuts of meat and cheap root veg and it’d be kept bubbling away for days, being constantly topped up as a heart warmer for the crews. Its popularity spread to the locals and before too long they were known as Scousers.
These days it’s been refined somewhat and you can use the best ingredients if you like, you can add a bit of your favourite spice or whatever you like really as this is very versatile.
The recipe I followed was brought to our TV screens by The Hairy Bikers when they invited Casualty actress Sunetra Sarker on who brought them the dish as an example of her Liverpudlian upbringing. You can find the original (with video) on the BBC Food website here.
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1.4kg/3lb lamb neck fillet, cut into large pieces
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 1.2 litres/2 pints chicken stock
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 900g/2lb King Edward potatoes, quartered
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp brown sauce
- Pickled beetroot
- Brown sauce
- Crusty bread and butter
Method of Preparation:
- Tip the flour into a large freezer bag and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the pieces of lamb, seal the bag and shake thoroughly to coat the lamb in the seasoned flour. Remove the lamb and shake off any excess flour.
- Heat the oil in a large heatproof casserole (or saucepan) over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the lamb and fry for a further 8-10 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over.
Drain off any excess fat from the pan then pour in the stock. Stir in the carrots, half of the potatoes and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir well and make sure all of the ingredients are covered by the stock, topping up with boiling water if necessary. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the casserole or pan with a lid and simmer very gently for three hours, stirring occasionally and topping up with boiling water as necessary.
- After three hours, add the remaining potatoes and stir in the brown sauce. Simmer for a further 1½ hours.
- Check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then serve with pickled beetroot, brown sauce and crusty bread and butter on the side.
First thing to note is that this recipe takes 5 hours to complete which takes it off the mid-week menu list but it will last for a couple of days, covered in the fridge, if you want to prep it at the weekend and eat early in the week. A lot of people, myself included, will tell you that it’s better when reheated anyway.
The second thing I’d mention is the quantity of meat that the recipe calls for – 1.4kg / 3lb is a lot for 4 people in my opinion. As usual I cooked this for Wife and I so my original plan was to simply halve the ingredients but when I went to the freezer I discovered the lamb neck I’d picked up was only 200g / 1/2lb. I took a look at the rest of the ingredients, decided it would be enough and just got on with it.
My chicken stock once again came from the Knorr Stock Pot range as I find them so easy to work with and I found I only needed to add a bit more boiling water to cover it all totally.
I like my Lobscouse quite spicy so I added a lot more Worcestershire and Brown Sauces than the recipe calls for. I probably added 2tbsp of both to our meal for two. In the end I served it with pickled beetroot and some Tesco part baked bread rolls, which are lovely fresh from the oven, and it was delicious.
Being from the North West of England originally, this and Hot Pot are very close to my heart but I’d be interested to hear of other regional favourites you’re trying at home.