Hotch potch stew, also known as Hairst Bree, is a traditional Scottish recipe made with lamb or mutton and spring vegetables.
Recently someone gave me A Taste of Scotland. It's part of a series by Theodora Fitzgibbons.
The book had a recipe for hotch potch soup that's a stew of mostly green vegetables and lamb. In the header, other ingredients are mentioned that were used in the past, or in times of famine.
The author mentioned Levisticum scoticum, (Scotch lovage or shemis) wild onions, lamb's quarters and nettle tops.
I thought the wild ingredients were good evidence of it being an old, authentic recipe.
I researched the recipe and tried a few versions for a video series I've been working on for Shepherd Song Farm. The finished product should be wet, but not soupy. It's basically a bowl of vegetables and meat seasoned with broth.
- 1-2 gallon dutch oven or casserole
- 12 cast iron skillet or sauté pan with high sides
- 1 lamb shoulder bone in, about 3.5 lbs
- 5 cups meat stock or water
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 small radishes or baby turnips peeled
- 3 cups peas or mixed peas and fava beans
- 8-10 small spring onions or scallions
- 3 cups of loosely packed nettle tops or spinach
- 2 cups asparagus
- 1 small head of lettuce
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh mint about 10 leaves
- Sliced chives
Prepare the vegetables
- Cut the asparagus, scallions and lettuce into 1 inch pieces. Quarter the radishes.
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- Season the lamb with the salt and allow to rest for an hour. Put the lamb shoulder in a dutch oven, cover with cold water, add a bay leaf. Top with a lid and cook for 2.5 hours or until fork tender. Cool for an hour and refrigerate until the fat has risen to the surface of the pot and the lamb is stiff.
- Remove the fat from the pot and discard. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and pat dry. Carefully remove the fat cap and then the bone with a paring knife. Cut the lamb into 1 inch pieces and reserve separately from the liquid.
- In a large sauté or cast iron pan, heat the oil, then add the spring onions and radishes and sweat until tender.
- Add the radishes, spring onions, nettles and stock. Cook covered, stirring occasionally about 10 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and taste good to you. Add the peas, lamb, and lettuce and heat through.
- Finally, add mint to the pot and stir. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if needed. Spoon the stock over each portion and finishing with a sprinkle of chives and a drizzle of olive oil.
- The stew should be very thick, with only a about ¼ cup of lamb jus per bowl.