Recipes: British pub classics for the home cook

This hot pot is a nod to Coronation Street's iconic dish that kept the patrons of the Rovers Return happy for many years.
Maarten Holl

This hot pot is a nod to Coronation Street's iconic dish that kept the patrons of the Rovers Return happy for many years.

The arrival of the British and Irish Lions (and their fans) was trumpeted with as much foreboding as the coming of winter in Game of Thrones.

No hotel, no pub, no street would be safe, the stories foretold. If this is to be believed, then perhaps it's best to stay in, watch the rugby on telly,  and dine on some classic pub dishes from the marauding visitors' homelands.

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Serves 6 as a main course
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

It's a long time since I've watched Coronation Street so I'm not sure if Betty's famous hotpot is still on the menu at the Rovers Return. I'd like to hope so because I'm sure it's far tastier and more nutritious than what's on offer at Coro's Prima Doner or Roy's Rolls. Anyway, for me, Betty's hotpot is synonymous with all that is wholesome and sustaining. Here's my version.


1 tablespoon canola oil
1kg lamb neck fillets, cut into 5cm chunks, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 onions, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, sliced into 1cm pieces
4 stalks silverbeet, leaves and stems chopped into 1cm slices
1 swede or kumara, peeled and diced
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, a sprig of rosemary and a few sprigs of parsley, tied together with cotton string
6-8 potatoes, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
1-2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Set a large, ovenproof pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil and allow to heat, then brown the lamb in batches, turning to sear on all sides. Don't crowd the pan and don't rush this – you can prepare the vegetables while you're waiting. As each batch cooks, remove it to a waiting plate.

When the meat is browned, lower the heat slightly and wipe out all but a tablespoon of the oil left in the pan. Add the onions, carrots, celery, silverbeet, and swede or kumara, plus a big pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the wine and let cook for a couple of minutes, then return the lamb to the pot, nestling it in around the vegetables. Pour over the chicken stock – the meat should be barely covered, and add the bouquet garni of herbs. Arrange the potatoes on top, season well with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and bake in the preheated oven for two hours, until the meat is very soft.

Remove the lid, discard the bouquet garni, then dot the potatoes with butter and turn the oven temperature to 180 degrees. Return the pot to the oven and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad (or just eat as is, where is).

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Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: nil

If you want next-level toad in the hole, make this with the phenomenal spicy Sicilian sausages that Rachel Priestley makes under the Prodigal Daughter label. I make the batter the way a Yorkshireman taught me, which is to weigh the eggs, then use an equivalent weight of both flour and milk. I've specified amounts below in case you don't have scales (or a nearby Yorkshireman).


1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
8 spicy Italian pork sausages
3 medium eggs (cracked weight is around 140g)
1 scant cup plain flour
140ml (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) milk

Heat the oven to 210 degrees. Set a heavy, ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, then the onions, capsicum and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are starting to colour. Scrape out of the pan and set aside.

Add the sausages to the pan and brown on all sides (add a little more oil to the pan if needed), for about five minutes. While they are cooking, whisk together the eggs, flour and milk to form a smooth batter.

Return the onions and capsicum to the pan and arrange the sausages in an attractive pattern. Pour over the batter and quickly transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the batter is well risen and well browned. Carefully slide the pan on to a board and serve at the table.

Serves 2-4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

I think this is an excellent curative if you've had a little too much good cheer – leeks, cheese, substantial bread and a little hair o' the dog. Follow with a post-prandial snooze on the sofa and/or a brisk walk.


2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, washed, trimmed, and white parts cut into ½ cm slices
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 teaspoons mustard
A pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup beer (a malty ale is good)
200g grated cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
4 slices hearty bread

Melt half the butter in a small pot set over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. The leeks should be soft, but not coloured. Tip out on to a plate and set aside.

Return the pot to the heat and add the rest of the butter. When it has melted, add the flour. Cook for three to five minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the mustard and cayenne pepper, then add the beer. Keep stirring – the mixture will come together and thicken. Add the cheese and cook until melted and thick. Taste for seasoning and remove from the heat. You can do this in advance and refrigerate the mixture until ready to use.

Set the grill to high and line an oven tray with foil. Toast the bread (using a toaster is easiest, obviously), then divide the leek mixture between the slices. Top each one with a generous dollop of the sauce, then slide the tray under the grill for five to 10 minutes, until the mixture is browned in places and bubbling. Warn diners that it will be seriously hot before they bite into it! Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to three days.

For more of Lucy's recipes, visit

 - Stuff


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