(This article originally appeared in Issue One of The Merseysider magazine.)
Jack Augustin recommends a few simple, one pot winter dishes that anyone can make.
Scouse with a twist
Eveyone has their favourite kind of scouse, whether it’s sloppy and mopped up with bread and butter, meaty and dry topped with plenty of HP sauce, lamb based, beef based, the remains of the roast based – the list goes on.
Scouse is the anglicised name for a dish known in Norway and northern Germany as ‘lapskaus’ or ‘labskaus’. Sailors from these parts brought it to Liverpool, where it remains popular not just in domestic cooking but also in pubs and quite fancy restaurants (Liverpool’s excellent Racquet Club, reviewed in Issue One of the magazine, is an example).
Until fairly recent times, thrifty householders would use the remains of the Sunday roast, which was usually lamb or beef, as the base for this simple stew. Indeed this is still the case in affluent Norway, where lapskaus is almost a national dish. Today however, we usually make our scouse with stewing steak or breast of lamb.
Scouse with a twist is going to use a Quorn-based ingredient (don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried this recipe!). Another difference is the use of sweet potatoes in place of carrots. They blend very well with normal white potatoes, and it is scouse with a twist after all.
Ingredients for four servings:
Half to a whole pack of Quorn steak strips. (Quorn seem to have stopped producing beef stlyle pieces, so you have to break these up a little towards the end of cooking.)
About 2lbs of potatoes, diced. 1 or 2 sweet potatoes. One onion diced, a little Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce), and most importantly a stock cube of your choice. It can be vegetarian, or beef, and there are very good reports of ‘scouseness’ with a lamb stock cube.
Heat a little oil in a saucepan, and add onions. When softened add the Quorn and stir for one minute. Then add the potatoes and hot water to cover, add a dash of Worcestershire or soy sauce and the stock cube. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for twenty minutes, keeping an eye on the water content. If you prefer it dryish, let it boil down, if soupish add more water. You may prefer to break the potatoes up to thicken. Depending on how you like your scouse, you can of course add some herbs, celery salt or a squeeze of tomato puree. The best thing is to let it cool down and taste it: you might surprise yourself.
Another twist is Spanish scouse. This is as above, but adding sliced cooking chorizo (which cooks very quickly) just before the potatoes. Also add chilli of your choice, fresh, powdered or flaked, or even tabasco sauce. And a good squeeze of tomato puree. To give an authentic Spanish flavour and aroma try a small pinch of nutmeg, but best to taste first.