I love Nigel Haworth, every time he is on Saturday Kitchen I get excited and when he won the main course on Great British Menu a couple of years ago with the most amazing hotpot you’ve ever seen I loved him even more. I went to his flagship restaurant Northcote on my 30th birthday and had the best pork I’ve ever tasted, I went again a couple of months ago with Naomi (you can read about that here if you like) and had grouse for the first time – the place is wonderful. Unfortunately I never got the chance to try that incredible hotpot, although I did get to try a simplified version at one of Nigel’s Ribble Valley Inns (I think it was The Highwayman) but unfortunately on that occasion it tasted mostly of salt.
Now Nigel has simplified it again and it appears as part of the M Kitchen range at Morrison’s. Keeping my fingers crossed that the salt content had been altered I bought one. The cooking instructions gave the option of microwaving it for 12 and a half minutes, or cooking it in the oven for half an hour, or cooking it in the oven for an hour from frozen – as mine was frozen I had the hour wait.
In it went – 30 minutes with the film lid on and then another 20 – 25 with the film lid off. Taking an optimistic stance I checked after 20 – the potatoes looked pasty and white so I gave them the extra 5; they still looked pasty and white. I cranked the oven to the max and about 5 mins later they had started to brown at the edges but by this time I was bored, and owing to the fact that it could be microwaved I assumed neither Nigel nor Morrison’s cared if the potatoes were brown or not – so why should I.
Level of brown turned out to be the least of my potato based worries, I should have been more concerned with level of hard for these King Edward slices had a crunch to them that you would not expect after an hour of cooking. Undeterred I dug beneath the potato and into the lamb and onion below; it was pretty damn good, the lamb pieces holding their shape whilst remaining tender, but not so long cooked that it disintegrates; the onion providing a sweet contrast to the deep meaty stock, which was surprisingly hearty considering it’s wateriness. It was well seasoned – no overkill of salt here and a hint of pepper too.
As with Bryn Williams Shepherd’s Pie the meat quantity was lacking, it was borderline mean and a few more chunks would have made all the difference. The ingredients say it is 40% onion , 35 % potato and 25% lamb – so there is definitely room for improvement. Finally I think it is a shame that the lamb has come from New Zealand especially as this is a Lancashire Hotpot, created by the chef who is the greatest ambassador for Lancashire produce – still it tasted grand.
Nigel Haworth Lancashire Hotpot for Morrison’s M Kitchen £4 for 440g serves 1