How to Make The Perfect Hot Pot

The hot pot is a classic English meal which has been served for generations and it still remains as one of the most hearty meals which you will find in the country. The story of the hotpot starts way back in the 17th Century in northern England, before the industrial revolution. Such was the cooking facilities that people had as well as the amount of time which they would spend working, spending a great deal of time and effort over food wasn’t possible.

During those days, mutton was usually the meat of choice and the women would leave scrags of it cooking over the fire for large periods of time. Once the mutton was slow-cooked, it would have vegetables and potatoes added to it with water and stock. Once the casserole was ready, the women would take their meal in a pudding bag down to the baker’s oven to finish cooking, and the hot pot was born. These days the cooking method has changed somewhat and there are variations on ingredients, it still remains as a beautiful dish and here is how to make one for you and the family.

Season and Cook

The first step is to season the meat, in this recipe we are going to use beef braising steak, perfect for this kind of dish. Once the meat is seasoned you need to fry it until browned. Remove the meat from the pan and place to one side. Set the oven to 170 degrees and place an empty casserole dish inside.

Veg Next

Add another knob of butter to the pan and start frying off the onions until they are lightly browned, towards the end of cooking, add the carrots in for around 1 minute.

Preparing the Casserole

Add the meat back in to the frying pan and gradually add in about a liter if chicken stock, as you stir in the stock, add flour to thicken up the gravy. Season with freshly ground pepper and some salt and if you want to add a little something extra then you could also place a couple of sprigs of time into the mix. Bring it all to the boil and then take it off the heat.

Next up you will need to slice your potatoes, you want these about 5mm thick. Now begin to add the mixture to the casserole dish and then add a layer of potatoes on top of the meat, repeat this process two or three times and then add a further layer of potatoes on the top.

Finally, cook the casserole in the oven for 1 hour with the lid on and then remove the lid for the last 15 minutes to make sure those potatoes are nice and crunchy.

Eat

After the casserole has finished cooking, take it out of the oven and leave it to stand for 10 minutes, then serve with some nice crunchy bread and enjoy this delicious and hearty meal.

How do you cook your hotpot? If you have any variations then please let us know.

Italian Foods That Will Change Your Life

Throughout my career, the one thing that has often surprised me about foreign foods is that they are terribly bastardized when they are imported and so many people want to domesticate these great foods in order to fit their own tastes. Food will always taste better when you are eating it in its home country but that is not to say that we shouldn’t at leas try to replicate it when cooking it back home. One such type of cuisine that this often happens to is Italian and pizza in particular. I traveled throughout Italy last year and discovered true Italian cooking, away from the pizza and here are some of the finest offerings that I sampled.

Bigoli

Spaghetti is a beautiful dish and has been one of my favorites for a while, this take on it comes from the Veneto region and is absolutely sumptuous. The spaghetti here is tubular and more of a thick pasta noodle than the traditional spaghetti, it is made with buckwheat flour and duck eggs. Traditionally served with some kind of reed wine sauce or some slowly cooked duck, this stodgy spaghetti tastes absolutely delicious.

Ribollita

The origins of ribollita comes from the poorest communities of Italy when food was a luxury and the women who cooked were forced to make do with  what they could, the result was outstanding. This hearty dish is a soup based meal which consists of boiled vegetables with the addition of bread to thicken the soup. The thing that sets this vegetable soup apart from any other is that beautiful blend of Italian herbs, the best place to go if you want to try this tasty dish is the region of Tuscany. 

Canederli

This is also a meal which has its origins in the poorer areas of Italy and this dish in particular comes from the Trentino-Alto Adige region.  The dish is made up from using leftover bread which is mixed with eggs and mil and formed into large dumplings. You will usually find that the bread is then mixed with speck or cured meats as well as herbs and cheese before the dumpling are boiled in beef broth. They say that this is a great hangover dish and whilst they may be right, this dish is great at any time of the day, filling and delicious.

Torrone

Something that everyone can agree on is the ability of the Italians to create outstanding deserts and torrone is one of my all time favorites. This dish combines egg whites, sticky nougat, toasted nuts and some citrus which is all mixed together and formed into a big, tasty slate. A slice of this devilish desert is the perfect compliment to a true Italian meal or you can enjoy it in a local cafe with some strong coffee.

What is your favorite Italian dish, aside from pizza? Let us know in the comments section below this post.