This is something that my mother always cooked when I was a kid, and was one of my favourite childhood meals. I remember it clearly as the kind of thing that would be great on a cold, dark November night after coming in from school with a streaming hot cup of tea to drink as an accompaniment. I’ve never been sure of the spelling, and there are lots and lots of variants of this, from Northumberland, Durham, even over to places like Wigan and St Helens (Lobbies), Liverpool (Scouse) or Scotland; sometimes a couple of the ingredients, or even the name, might vary a little. but this is our family’s version, so it’s a little bit different to the others.
It’s also something my daughter loves; she loved it when her Granny cooked it and now she likes my attempt at it. I’ll always think I’ll never do it as well as Mam, but Katie think it comes close. It’s really simple, quick, doesn’t take much effort by way of ingredients, is pretty cheap and, best of all, is lovely comfort food for a winter’s day. This little lot should feed 3-4, I think, with a fairly robust portion.
- First, chop a medium onion. you can do this anyway you like, though I don’t tend to like long strips in mine. Sweat the onions on the hob in either oil or butter (I prefer the former) until golden, soft and slightly translucent.To the onions, add a stock cube and a tablespoon or so of sauce flour (or plain white flour if that’s all you’ve got), together with a splash of water. Mix over the heat. Don’t season this mixture yet.
- Next, take a can of mixed vegetables (or you may choose to finely chop some carrot, parsnip, peas and green beans if you feel that way. I think the tinned ones add something more) and add the contents to the pan. If the tinned vegetables are in brine, make sure you add a some of that water to the mixture. This should provide the salt part of the seasoning for the mix. Now mix the vegetables, onion and sauce thoroughly, leaving them on a medium heat.
- Open a tin of corned beef. Leave the fat on, and cut the beef into cubes of approximately one inch. Add the beef to the pan and stir in. The beef should start to break up fairly quickly. If not, you can use a wooden spoon or similar to gently work the beef apart and into the rest of the mixture.
- Keep stirring the mixture until the corned beef has thoroughly broken up. At this point you might wish to season further, with some pepper. You might even wish to add a small squirt of brown sauce at this point to give a little, extra tiny kick. Leave this to cook on the hob for a few minutes on a simmer to reduce down just a little further. While the mixture is simmering away, chop a couple of medium to large size potatoes, possibly something that you wouldn’t use for mashing. The potatoes shouldn’t be cubed, but sliced, as you might do if you were going to sauteé them.
- Add the potatoes to the pan by layering them on top of the already cooking mixture. Put the pan into the oven on a low heat (between 120-160°C) for at least 2-3 hours, stirring the mix every so often. In the oven, the edges of some of the potatoes might even crisp a just a little. This is perfectly fine.
Alternatively, transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and add the potatoes to it. Stir the potatoes in and leave to cook on a low heat. This is exactly the sort of recipe that can be left in a slow cooker for several hours, or you can turn the heat up and leave it for a little less time. If the mixture is ready the potatoes should still hold their shape., but will have softened and started to take on some of the sauce to be a touch darker in colour.
- When the potatoes have softened enough, it’s cooked and ready to serve, either on its own or spooned over a slice of bread, so the juices and gravy can soak in. Perfect for a winter night!