Lancashire has a rich and varied history, and an impressive food heritage to match. With the county’s connections to the sea and hills across the scenic county, the dishes reflect warming and hearty food, making use of locally farmed, fished and grazed produce.
As Zoe at The Quirky Traveller describes; in this “hard-working, down-to-earth area of northern England”, with its Industrial towns and “charming countryside, rural villages, historic towns”, local materials and imported goods, old traditions and new introductions have all contributed to a diverse range of traditional Lancashire dishes. Read on for a true taste of Lancashire:
Hot to Pot
As one of the most famous dishes of Lancashire, Hotpots are eaten extensively throughout the county, and the UK. The warming Lancashire hotpot is reputably named after the large, straight-sided large dish in which it was cooked.
Like several of the North West counties, Lancashire cuisine was influenced by Irish cooking, and potatoes are thinly sliced and layered over onions and the meat, allowing them to turn a baked golden brown, soaking up all the delicious flavours for an extra tasty treat.
There is some debate as to whether the hotpot should include carrots, but Linzi at Lancashire-Food states “I am firmly on the side of carrots as this is a peasant dish and would think that hungry mill workers, farmers and the like would make their lamb stretch as far as they possible could”.
Traditional hotpots contain mutton, but, as Graham from GrahamEtteridge demonstrates, more commonly lamb is used today.
The Ribble Valley is populated by picturesque villages, and Goosnargh near Preston is no exception. Goosnargh is also notable for producing its own cake, the Goosnargh cake.
A once-popular treat at Easter and flavoured with caraway seeds, “which give them their distinctive slightly aniseed flavour”, Goosnargh cakes have a “gloriously crumbly, melt-in-the mouth texture”, and Jules at HomeJules describes that it has more of a shortbread quality than a cakey texture.
Unfortunately, due to rationing during the Second World War, Sarah at The Garden Deli describes how there’s been a steady “decline in the popularity of Goosnargh Cake – there just wasn’t enough butter available to be making luxuries like this”, and there are now initiatives to “preserve these traditional foods before it’s too late and they are lost forever”.
Not too dissimilar in flavour and texture to the Goosnargh cake, caraway and coriander seed-flavoured Tosset cakes originate from the village of Stalmine, and were traditionally baked for the centuries-old Tosset Feast to celebrate St.Oswald’s Day on August 5th, from where it is believed the Tosset derives its name.
The Tosset Cake has seen a recent revival by Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty in their Friday Night Feast TV programme, as they helped to restore disappearing traditional British foods and fare. Abby at MyTwoWeakenesses commented that “they’re heading to my tiny home village in search of a forgotten biscuit! it must truly be forgotten as I’ve never heard of it, and I can’t quite emphasise how small our village is…”
These delicious, short and aromatic biscuits can be enjoyed sweet with a sprinkling of sugar, or as a tasty alternative to a cracker with some local Lancashire cheese!
Bring Me Seafood
Lancashire has access to the sea on its west side, and at Morecambe Bay, (where Eric Morecambe of Morecambe and Wise)was born and where he chose his pseudo surname from), small brown potted shrimps are a local delicacy. These are served with a rich spiced butter on top in small pots, which Jamie at JCCRestaurantReviews describes. Renowned for being “the best potted shrimps in the UK”, they are even served in the Royal household!
Potted shrimps were recently tasted by the Hairy Bikers, who exclaimed; “You can keep your caviar, you can keep your snails. There ain’t nothing like Morecambe Bay shrimps!”, especially when enjoyed, as Sarah at North West Nosh recommends; “on the beach with wind whipping through your hair and sand in your trainers”.
Build me up Butter Pie
A true Lancashire delicacy, Butter Pie is also referred to as Potato and Onion Pie, or the Friday Pie or Catholic Pie, due to its origins as a filling and hearty meal so as to “comply with the catholic rule of not eating meat on a Friday”.
Linzi from Lancashire-Food describes Butter Pie as filled with “potatoes, onion and butter, plus a little seasoning… all encased in a shortcrust pastry parcel”. Popular side dishes include pickled red cabbage or beetroot, “a traditional accompaniment to most meals which contain potato in Lancashire”.
This bountiful county has plenty of delicious food guaranteed to “appeal to all ages and tastes”. With so much to do, see and sample across this fascinating, diverse and historic region, you’re sure to be spoilt for choice!