25 September 2010
I'd been looking forward to making this dish ever since I grasped the nettle with both hands and put it on the Menu list! Now I know that hubby has some "issues" with hotpots (mainly the potatoes on top never cooking right and the fact that they can be greasy) but this one issued an additional challenge to me, owing to the inclusion of kidney in the recipe.
I had chosen one of James Martin's recipes and I knew it required some tweaking, largely because it included 100g of dripping or butter! There was no way I was using either of those - none of our hips require additional padding - but I didn't want to lose any of the flavour.
Additionally, because (as I've mentioned previously) I have two fat-phobic diners in the house, I was using lamb mince so as to avoid any horrible blobby and gelatinous bits of fat floating to the surface. So, I dry-fried the mince to release all the fat which I poured off and left the mince in the pan (without stirring) so that the bottom layer gained that lovely crispy texture that they call "caramelising", but I call "flavour". *chuckle*
I left just enough fat in the pan to fry the kidneys and the onion/carrot mixture, then lifted them out with a slotted spoon, to leave as much fat in the pan as was possible. It seemed to work, as there was only a small amount of fat floating on the top - and most of that came from the butter I'd brushed onto the potatoes. It was easily removed (and put in the dog bowl, lol).
The kidneys were so delicious in this! It was the first time I'd ever tangled with kidneys and I figured that if I could cut up liver (which I can, without any difficulty), then I could remove the core from a kidney and cut it up. I was praying that they wouldn't turn out to be terribly bloody, which fortunately they weren't and the core came out incredibly easily - which left a lot to be said for my terrific knife, rather than any skill on my part. After the quick fry and then two hours of cooking in the casserole dish in the oven, they were as tender as could be and completely delicious.
I served the hotpot with broccoli, swede batons and peas. Both son and his friend (who stayed for tea as a last minute thing) loved the dish, the friend declaring it "gorgeous!" and saying he'd make sure to tell his Mum & Dad about it. *chuckle* Well, you can't ask for better than that!
500g lamb mince
2 lamb kidneys, core & fat removed and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
500ml lamb or chicken stock (lamb is best)
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
a small knob of butter, or a tsp olive oil.
1. Pre-heat oven to 180deg C (fan)/gas 3. Heat a frying pan and fry off the lamb mince. Once it is browned, drain the fat off (leaving around 1 tbsp) and allow the mince to caramelise on the underside of the layer. Turn over and repeat the caramelisation 2-3 times, then remove with a slotted spoon to the casserole dish.
2. Fry the kidneys quickly in a hot pan, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the mince.
3. Add the onions and carrots and fry for some 10 minutes or so, until they have become golden and are softened. Drain off the remaining fat.
4. Add the flour, allow to cook out for a minute or so, then add the worcestershire sauce and the stock (I added it in two instalments, stirring well all the time). Bring to the boil and allow the gravy to thicken.
5. Add the mixture to the mince & kidneys and mix through. Then arrange the sliced potato over the top and brush with a little melted butter or olive oil. Season the potatoes with salt & pepper, cover, then place the casserole dish in the oven for around an hour and a half.
6. Remove from the oven and spoon off any liquid fat that has risen to the surface. Then increase the temperature of the oven to 220 deg and replace - without the lid - to allow the potatoes to brown. You can do this under the grill, if you'd prefer.