In the UK, this dish is made with best end and middle neck of lamb, which is a cut of meat I can’t find in Spain, so I use shoulder of lamb, cut into 4 or 5.The original recipe doesn’t call for carrots, but I add them myself.
You can also add a few lamb’s kidneys, which you should brown as for the lamb pieces.
You can also use a mixture of leeks and onions, instead of onions alone.
1kg lamb shoulder (paletilla cordero)
1 tbsp flavourless oil or lard (manteca o aceite)
4 lamb’s kidneys, cored and chopped (optional) [riñones de cordero]
350g onions peeled, halved and cut into wedges (cebollas)
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced (optional) [zanahorias]
1 level tbsp flour (harina)
600ml hot water mixed with 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 bay leaf (laurel)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (tomillo)
1kg (++++) potatoes, peeled and sliced (patatas)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper (sal y pimienta)
First trim the lamb of any excess fat and wipe with kitchen paper. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and ¼ oz (5 g) butter until it is very hot, then brown the pieces of lamb two or three at a time until they all have a good brown crust. As they cook, remove them to a wide casserole. Brown the pieces of kidney too, and tuck these in among the meat.
Next, fry the onions – add ¼ oz (5 g) butter to the pan if you need any extra fat – cooking them for about 10 minutes till they turn brown at the edges. Now stir in the flour to soak up the juices, then gradually add the hot water and Worcestershire sauce, stirring or whisking until flour and liquid are smoothly blended. Season with salt and pepper and bring it up to simmering point, then pour it over the meat in the casserole. Add the bay leaf and thyme, then arrange the potato slices on top, in an overlapping pattern like slates on a roof. Season the potatoes and add a few flecks of butter here and there.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook near the top of the oven for 1½ hours, then remove the lid and cook for a further 50 minutes.I sometimes finish off the hotpot under the grill. If you brush the potatoes with a little more butter and place the casserole under a hot grill they crisp up and brown beautifully. Alternatively, if you think they’re not browning enough during cooking, you can turn the heat in the oven right up during the last 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving.