Sunday, 11 January 2009

My Mum's recipe for Scouse

People who come from the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Liverpool are called Scousers, and the word scouse comes from a stew traditionally eaten by the residents of the city. Originally called Lobskaus or Lobscouse it was a stew eaten by Scandinavian sailors who, in the early 1800s when Liverpool was a very busy port, brought their recipes with them and before long it was adopted by the locals. Its beauty was that it was a cheap yet tasty and filling meal, and could be adapted to suit what you had in the larder. The recipe was popular with the large Irish immigrant families who were settling in Liverpool and it could feed everyone on a small budget.

It is a thick stew - not dissimilar to Irish stew although scouse has fewer ingredients - yet there is no thickening agent added. The only thickening is from the odd melted potato from the very slow cooking. In fact, it's considered a good scouse if you can stand your spoon up in the bowl.

Lamb was often used, but we always had brisket in our family - but that was in the days when brisket was a cheap cut of meat. Not so much these days! I still like to use it though as it has its own unique flavour, but if it's not available I use good quality beef suitable for stewing. There is another version called 'blind scouse' which is the same recipe minus the meat. Blind scouse was on the menu when the housekeeping didn't stretch to buying any meat, but nowadays it can be offered as a veggie alternative.
Every family in Liverpool has its own version of this dish, and of course I always use my Mum's - with the addition of the Worcestershire sauce. Generations of Scousers have been raised on bowls of scouse - and I'm just surprised the Beatles didn't write a song about it.
You'll notice from the recipe that there are no amounts: you just use whatever you have in, judging the amounts by the number of people you are feeding. It wouldn't normally have as much meat (as per my photo) but I had bought more meat than usual.

As a Scouser I'd like to pass on a very special recipe to you. It's my daughters' favourite and tastes great on a cold day, with some buttered crusty bread. Even better, serve it with red cabbage (a traditional accompaniment). Fiona Beckett has a great recipe for red cabbage on her blog The Frugal Cook.

My Mum's recipe for Scouse

Beef - cut into cubes (brisket, stewing steak or any cut of beef suitable for a stew)
Onions - sliced, not too thinly
Carrots - cut any way you like
Potatoes (I prefer red Desiree or Orla)
stock using 2 beef stock cubes (I use Oxo)
vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

In small batches brown the meat in vegetable oil taking them out when browned and placing in a dish. When all meat is browned fry the onions in the pan, incorporating some of the nice crusty brown bits at the bottom of the pan.

When the onions are soft and translucent return the meat and its juices to the pan, along with the carrots. Add with enough beef stock to cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Dice and add the potatoes, adding more water if necessary. Season well with lots of pepper. Simmer until the vegetable are very tender. At the end of the cooking time I add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, but this would not be a traditional ingredient, I just like the added flavour.
Serve very hot.

This dish tastes even better if made a day ahead.  Once cooked leave overnight in a covered pan and reheat the next day, and by then the flavours will have melded together and the gravy will be thicker and even tastier.


lunarossa said...

So you're a Scouser!!! I should have known! I love Liverpudians and love their accent. One of my favourite companies I translate for is in Liverpool. My best friend here in England has just "hooked" up with the love of his life, a Liverpudian of course (but she lives in York now)! But I did not know the recipe of the scouse, thank you! I'll try it and let you know the reactions here at home. My son is a fanatic Liverpool football fan, my (horrid) husband a Beatles fan, so it might go down well. Take care. Ciao. Antonella

La Belette Rouge said...

It is not pretty but I bet it tastes good. Thanks for sharing it with us. I had never heard of Scouse before.

notSupermum said...

Antonella, yes I am a scouser but don't have a strong accent (well, not compared to most scousers!). I'm glad you are bringing your family up to appreciate Liverpool in all its glories!

La belette, no it certainly isn't pretty but very tasty and filling. I'm happy to be spreading the scouse word!

More than a Mother said...

Yum! Perfect winter fodder :)

notSupermum said...

More than a mother, thanks for dropping by and leaving a message. I've just had a quick look at your blog....will be going back later for a longer read!

notSupermum said...

Kayleigh, the portobello mushrooms would be an interesting replacement for the meat....yum! I've never heard of the steak strips you mentioned though.

see you there! said...

I've heard of Scouse but never really understood what it was. Nothing like seeing a picture to get the idea. Thanks for posting this.


notSupermum said...

Glad you liked it Darla.

notSupermum said...

Oooh, great idea Michelle I'm sure that would work really well. I hope you enjoy it - let me know what you think!