Scouse is a form of stew popular in Northern Europe. The English word scouse is a shortened form of lobscouse, taken from similar words like the Norwegian lapskaus, Swedish lapskojs, and Danish labskovs. The dish, which likely originated in the Baltic, is a traditional sailor’s stew consisting of salted meat or fish and thickened with ship’s biscuits. Today, the word is closely related to the port city of Liverpool, to the point where inhabitants of Liverpool are colloquially called “Scousers”.
In my research, I focused on the modern Liverpool interpretation of Scouse, and quickly found that there is a certain pride in preparing what’s known today as a “proper Scouse”. A proper Scouse, it seems, is low on ingredients, indicative of the dish’s humble origins. Today, the dish is prepared with lamb neck, onion, carrots, and potato – and not much else. In keeping with this tradition, I kept the ingredients list to a minimum; no fancy parsley here. This dish is typically served with pickled cabbage or beets, so grab those when you’re at the market, too.
My main purpose in creating and sharing this recipe was to treat it as an exercise in restraint, relying only on salt and pepper to perfect the stew’s subtle profile. To round out the flavor, many will serve HP Sauce with the finished stew (HP Sauce is a UK-based brown sauce that is like a cross between ketchup and Worcestershire sauce). As a concession, I flavored my stew with Worcestershire near the end, for those of us without access to this condiment.
Scouse (Gluten-free, Primal, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet, Whole30 adaptable)
2 tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil
2 lbs lamb neck, shoulder, or stew meat (or beef chuck roast), bone-in preferred
1 medium onion, chopped
1.5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks, divided
2 cups chicken broth
3 large carrots (about 3/4 lb), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
pickled red cabbage or beets to serve
1. In a dutch oven or stockpot, heat the butter over medium/high heat until frothy; add the lamb pieces and brown on each side until just crispy, about 4 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium, remove the lamb pieces, and add the onion. Saute until softened, about 6 minutes, then add 1/3 of the potatoes, chicken broth, and browned lamb pieces, then add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low; simmer until the meat is just tender, about 1.5 hours. Immerse the remaining 2/3 of the peeled potatoes in some cool water to stay fresh as the stew cooks.
2. Once the meat is just tender, fish out the meat pieces and set them aside. Using a potato masher or a whisk, mash the potatoes to create a thick sauce; do not overmash or the potatoes will become gluey. Return the lamb pieces to the pot, minus the bones; pick any meat from the bones and adding it to the pot as well. Stir in the carrots and remaining potatoes; cover and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the Worcestershire sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste; serve with pickled red cabbage or beets.