Discover the flavours of Lancashire
With the benefit of its coastal waters and lush countryside, Morecambe Bay is home to some culinary treats. From delicate, sweet shrimps preserved in butter, to the hearty and moreish Lancashire hotpot – now is your chance to try its delicacies – with your own spin.
Traditionalists may baulk at the unconventional twists on these recipes, but these beautiful local ingredients will stand up to experimentation – as long as they are shown the respect they richly deserve!
Traditional Lancashire hotpot is made with lamb or mutton and onion topped with thinly sliced potatoes. It was a slow cooked dish using economical cuts of meat which was stewed for a long time in a heavy pot over a low fire, ready for the hungry workers to come home from the cotton mills. It may have contained oysters too – when they were cheap and plentiful. As they became more of a ‘luxury’ item and an acquired taste, they were dropped from the recipe.
Modern or regional variations add vegetables and perhaps kidneys or bacon, and I have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable by using beef, hence the name Lancashire Notpot! I have made this recipe using braising steak from Countrystyle Meats, based at Lancaster Leisure Park. However if you want to stick to the traditional route try a delicious Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb, available online. Another delicious alternative would be the very under-used goat meat, reared and sold by Cockerham Goats.
- 1kg cubed braising steak
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 50g butter
- 1½ large onions, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots, peeled, cut into small chunks
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 400ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp Lancashire sauce
- Fresh and dried thyme
- 650g potatoes, cut into thin (3mm) slices
- Preheat the oven to 170°C.
- Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat a frying pan hot then add the oil and butter. Fry the beef until browned, then remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the onions and fry until lightly browned.
- Add the carrots and cook for a further minute.
- Add the beef back into the frying pan, along with the flour. Cook for a minute.
- Add the stock, bay leaves, dried thyme and Lancashire sauce. Stir, and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Transfer to a casserole dish and cook in the oven with the lid on, for 40 mins.
- Take out of the oven and top with layers of potatoes. Brush the tops of the potatoes with melted butter and return dish to the oven, leaving the lid off. Cook for another 40 mins.
- Turn the oven up to 200°C and cook for a final 30 mins with the lid off to brown and crisp the potatoes.
- Served topped with fresh thyme and alongside green vegetables.
Super-Local Pear and Lancashire Cheese Tarts
The pears I’ve used are ‘super-local’ because they are from my garden, but both Lancaster and Morecambe have thriving markets with excellent fresh fruit and vegetables for sale.
Lancashire Cheese has three varieties – creamy and tasty which are produced by traditional methods dating from the 1890s, and crumbly which is a more recent creation (1950s) and has a shorter production time, making it more commercially viable.
I’ve gone for Mrs Kirkham’s Smoked Lancashire, made in Goosnargh from the farm’s own unpasteurised cow’s milk, and bought from Booths, a northern chain of supermarkets founded in Blackpool in 1847. This recipe is simple and easy – letting the ingredients speak for themselves.
- 1 sheet ready-rolled ‘light’ puff pastry
- Olive oil
- 1 large pear, cored and finely sliced
- 100g smoked Lancashire cheese, grated
- 3-4 tbsp local honey from the Honeycomb Co., Galgate
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Dried or fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Remove pastry from fridge and leave for 10 mins.
- Unroll the pastry and cut into 8 x 8 cm squares.
- With a knife draw a smaller square on each piece. Prick over this small square with a fork. Then brush the edges of each square of puff pastry with olive oil.
- Put the pastry squares into the oven for 5 mins.
- Removed squares and top with sliced pear. Brush the slices of pear with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and honey.
- Return to the oven for 5 mins.
- Remove and top with grated Lancashire cheese.
- Return to the oven for another 5 mins or until the pastry is golden.
- Sprinkle over parsley and serve whilst warm.
Morecambe Bay Looks East
Morecambe Bay shrimp have been fished in the bay for hundreds of years – today still an arduous process despite the horse and cart netting method giving way to tractors and purpose-built boats in recent years. A fashionable delicacy in the 1920s and 30s, trade dropped due to its seasonality and labour-intensity, leaving only a handful of fishermen still keeping the craft alive.
Potted in melted butter with white and cayenne pepper, ground nutmeg and mace, they are sublime served on hot toast, but this recipe pairs them with some subtle flavours from the east.
- 2 salmon fillets
- 100g Morecambe Bay shrimps in butter
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons local honey
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon chopped spring onion
- Fresh coriander
- Place the cucumbers, red onion, carrots and red pepper in a large bowl.
- Mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat.
- Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and fry in the vegetable oil until cooked through, around 3 minutes each side.
- Gently heat the Morecambe Bay shrimps in a pan until the butter is melted.
- Serve the salmon topped with the buttered shrimps and alongside the salad. Top the salmon and salad with sesame seeds, sliced spring onion and fresh coriander. Add Thai sticky rice for a more substantial meal.
I hope you have enjoyed experimenting with Lancashire flavours, ingredients and dishes.
Ros from the Explore Morecambe Bay Team