I think a lot of people view us Brits as posh, rich people who talk like the Queen, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually a lot of the country was pretty poor for a pretty long time, so many of our traditional recipes are along the lines of this vegetarian sausage hotpot – stews that could be made easily and, most importantly, cheaply. There are loads of versions of British stews that originate from different areas of the country (scouse from Liverpool, cawl from Wales, Scotch broth from Scotland), but I suppose the one I’m sharing today most closely resembles the Lancashire hotpot.
I say ‘most closely resembles’ because it probably doesn’t resemble it very much at all, but it’s topped with potato, so I’m going to go ahead and say it’s a Lancashire hotpot.
(disclaimer: I’m not from Lancashire, nor have I ever lived in Lancashire, so please don’t tell me off for this being inauthentic!)
Anyway, this hotpot is really easy to make, and only takes one pan (I can hear you all getting excited already). Just cook up some vegetables along with some chopped up sausages, add some sliced potatoes – as you can tell, I was going for the ‘rustic’ look – and bake for an hour. Easy peasy. I like to add two layers of potatoes on top, so the bottom layer gets nice and soft in the gravy that bubbles up all around it, and the top layer stays crisp.
I do love cooking Italian food, Mexican food, any type of food really, but there’s something really comforting about the sort of hearty stew I grew up with. It’ll make anywhere feel like home.
I feel a bit cheeky using gravy granules in this recipe since when I’m cooking for the blog I do try to cook from scratch the majority of the time, but in my opinion there really isn’t anything else that comes close to Bisto gravy granules. Considering you’ll find a tub of Bisto in most British households, I’m going to say that I’m just being authentic, despite the fact that they only went on sale in 1979. Never mind. When something tastes this good I’m not even going to pretend I’m sorry.
I know any non-Brits reading this might not be lucky enough to have any Bisto in their kitchen cupboards, and might not even know where to get any from, so I implore you: buy some online. You won’t regret it. It Browns, Seasons and Thickens in One (geddit?)!
By the way, if you prefer, you can use vegetarian mince instead of sausages – it’s up to you. You could even be totally crazy and use beans instead of a meat substitute. Go mad.
- 1tbsp oil
- 6 vegetarian sausages (thawed), cut into chunks
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 parsnip, diced
- 150g mushrooms, diced
- 100g green beans, chopped
- 150g sweetcorn
- Black pepper
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- 4tbsp Bisto gravy granules
- 350g potatoes (I used new potatoes)
- 1tbsp margarine or butter
- Heat the oil in a large pan (use an ovenproof one if you have one), and add the sausage chunks, onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for several minutes, before adding the carrots, parsnip, mushrooms, green beans and sweetcorn. Add plenty of black pepper, and continue to cook, stirring fairly often, for 5 more minutes.
- Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
- Add the thyme, vegetable stock, soy sauce and Bisto granules to the vegetables, mix well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for a couple more minutes while you slice the potatoes thinly - use a mandoline if you have one.
- Remove the stew from the heat, stir well, and then add one layer of sliced potatoes, overlapping them slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and dot about half of the margarine across the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes, and once again, season and dot with margarine.
- Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for one hour, or until the potatoes are tender.