Random Recipes # 25: The choice is…. Mini-M’s

For this month's Random Recipes challenge, hosted as ever by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, we were allowed to choose our random book and random recipe however we pleased.

Instead of counting cookbooks and using random number generators which has been used by many participants in the past, I decided that Mini-M was fairly random in general, so she could choose.

Hearty food never looks pretty!
I asked her to pick a cookbook from Mummy's shelf, and so she did. Surprise surprise, it was 'Fun Cakes'. I exercised my power of veto - no birthdays in February, so no ridiculous cake decorating on the agenda. After a moment of petted lip, and assurances that when it was actually her birthday, she could choose a cake, she went back and picked another - this rather vintage Mary Berry freezer book.

Some rather retro food styling!
I opened it part way through, and the recipe I ended up with was Norfolk Hotpot. It's basically a creamy bacon and potato casserole. As usual I played fairly fast and loose with the recipe, for which I have a whole range of excuses.

1) I needed to make it dairy free so used Oatly Oat Milk.
2) I have no idea what a Knuckle of Forehock of Bacon is. After reading the recipe, there were instructions to remove it from the bone, so I bought the only bit of bacon on a bone that ASDA had - a smoked pork hough. I have no idea if it was the correct size, since there was no weight in the recipe.
3) I didn't have the 4hrs cooking time required to do it properly, so I boiled the potatoes for longer, didn't layer them artfully on top, and just gave it a quick stint it into the oven to finish off.
4) 450g onions seems an awful lot for 6 people. Based on the onions I had, it worked out at 1 each. I'm not really up for eating a whole onion in a meal, so I halved the amount.
5) The bacon was really salty, so I decided not to use the actual stock - an approach condoned by Mary Berry - but she suggests a ham stock cube. I went slightly to the other end of the scale and used low sodium vegan Marigold boullion, since that is what I had to hand.

Thankfully despite all of those deviations, the end result was still lovely!

So here's my 'loosely inspired by Mary Berry' Almost Norfolk Hotpot (serves 4)

  • 1 smoked pork hough
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 450g potatoes
  • 250g onions
  • 450g vegetable boullion
  • 150ml Oatly oat milk
  • 2 tbsp dairy free sunflower margarine
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Pepper

Soak the hough in cold water for an hour.
Drain and replace the water, then bring to the boil.
When it is boiling, take off the heat, drain and replace the water.
When it comes up to the boil again, allow to boil for 2hrs until the meat is tender.
Remove the hough, allow to cool slightly, then strip off the meat, and cut away the sinews and fat.
Slice the onions.
Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks.
Put both in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, add the bay leaves and cook until the potatoes are just tender but not too soft.
Whilst the potatoes and onion are boiling, melt the butter in a small saucepan.
Add the flour and stir well, then cook for a couple of minutes to make a roux.
Add the boullion and milk a little at a time, whisking well between additions, to make a smooth sauce.
Mix the boiled onion and potatoes, chopped bacon and sauce together in a large casserole.
Cook uncovered for 20 mins.

Not for the faint hearted - boiled hough is  a little gnarly!
This is a great hearty dish for winter weather. It warms you up inside when it's chilly out.

Looking less fearsome - chopped hough, ready to join the potatoes and onion in the sauce

I wonder what randomness next month will bring...