A long and rambling history
The region has a long and varied agricultural and industrial history, which has resulted in a rich culinary heritage. Traditional dishes of Lancashire were often based on economical ingredients, producing cheap but tasty dishes that would keep hard working families well fed in the cold climate. Great regional dishes like Hotpot were inspired out of necessity, with readily available ingredients, but just who invented Lancashire Hotpot, no-one knows, as it has a long and rambling history.
In the 18th century it was a kind of punch, but evolved into a meat stew in the middle of the 19th century. In the novel North & South, Victorian writer Elisabeth Gaskell described how Mr. Thornton, a mill owner, dined on it with his work hands: "I never made a better dinner in my life. I told them how much I had enjoyed it; and for some time, when ever that special dinner recurred in their dietary, I was sure to be met by these men, with a ‘Master, there's hotpot for dinner today win yo' come?’"
Hotpot has its origins in the Lancashire cotton industry, a quick and simple dish to prepare with long slow cooking, the story goes that female mill workers would prepare the dinner in the morning, place the Hotpot in the range ovens and many hours later it would be ready when the family returned home. Others suggest that it was a dish prepared for pit workers to take to the mines wrapped in a blanket, it would keep hot and make a nourishing lunch in the cold and difficult conditions under ground. The aristocracy claimed that it was a wonderful dish to prepare and take to the races, made in tall pots and also wrapped in a blanket. Traditionally, Hotpot dishes would be quite tall as the hill sheep were very long boned and the chop would stand in the dish. The farming community maintain that it was a family dish often eaten by shepherds on the moors with the same principle as the miners.
Legend also has it that a Lancashire woman’s prowess in Hotpot making determined the marriage prospects of their daughters, but that is the North of England for you!
Despite its reputation, it exists in many variations and even if you believe your Mother's or Grandmother’s is the best ever, at Northcote Manor we are adamant you will find the ultimate Lancashire Hotpot; simplicity itself with true and honest flavours.