I’ve been really enjoying using my pressure cooker of late. Slow cooked dishes which have previously been out of reach of work-night dinners are now in reach. The pressure cooker miraculously transforms tough cuts like brisket, pork and lamb shoulder into melting goodness in a manner of minutes rather than hours. I made a cracking lamb and spinach curry in about twenty minutes the other day. Lap uses his for pork carnitas and beef rendang. I thought I’d use this trick to make one of my favourites – Lancashire hotpot. Often meaty neck bones are suggested for this dish but I find these a bit hard to get hold of, but I can get lamb shoulder which has the requisite properties to render gelatinous goodness into the sauce. So I figured I’d cook down the shoulder in the pressure cooker, shred the meat from the bone and then assemble the hotpot. This brings the total cooking time for this dish down to a realistic two hours. I reckon it’d be double with a conventional braise.
1/2 lamb shoulder
1 glass red wine
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, chunked
1 tablespoon flour
400ml good beef stock (I tend to use the Heston stuff from Waitrose)
bay leaf, sprig of rosemary and thyme
floury maincrop potatoes (Maris Piper, King Edwards* see comments) – number will depend on the area of your cooking pot
good slug of anchovy essence
Brown lamb shoulder in a hot pan (my pressure cooker isn’t big enough for a shoulder).
In the open pressure cooker fry the onion and carrots in some oil until giving. Add the herbs and flour. Add wine and reduce by half. Add the stock and anchovy essence, reduce a little. Add the lamb shoulder whole. Cook in pressure cooker for about 35-40 minutes at 15 psi (high pressure) and use the slow release method. Check the lamb is tender, otherwise go again for 10 more minutes. Remove the shoulder from the sauce and leave until it’s cooled enough to handle. Use your hands to rip it into shreds, it should be tender enough (gloves are handy here). Pour the sauce into a bowl and let the fat settle on the top. Skim the fat off but reserve it for later. Season the sauce (careful as the anchovy essence is quite salty). Cut potatoes into thickish slices (about one pound coin thickness) for the base. Add some lamb dripping to a nice oven-proof pot. Then layer the thickly sliced potatoes on the bottom of the pot. Make a couple of layers if you like lots of potatoes in your hotpot. Layer over the shredded lamb shoulder and pour over the sauce so it just covers the meat (removing the herbs at the same time). Cut more potatoes into very thin slices for the top. I use a mandoline. Overlap them neatly in several layers. Add a little more lamb dripping to serve as a glaze. Cook in oven at 200 degrees covered loosely with foil for 1 hour and then remove foil and brown the top until it looks really appetising.
Serve with pickled vegetables. Red cabbage is traditional, but I used turnips and carrots which worked well.