The people of Liverpool are known as Scousers, a nickname which is supposed to have come about because of the City’s love of a stew made from meat and vegetables known locally as ‘scouse’.
Ask any Liverpudlian who makes the best scouse and the answer will most likely be, ‘Me Ma’.
No one knows for sure where the first recipe came from, some say its based on the Norwegian ‘lapskaus’ brought to the area by Scandinavian settlers who had parliaments in Thingwall and on the Wirral. The area names of Aigburth and Toxteth are examples of the Viking influence on the City.
Others say it’s origins lie in Ireland. Liverpool has very strong ties to Ireland and has a large Irish population. Without that connection it’s unlikely the City would have had its famous sons; McCartney and Lennon.
There’s some debate, even amongst locals, as to whether scouse should be served with pickled cabbage or beetroot, however, all agree it has to be served with a hunk of bread for mopping up all the rich gravy. It’s such a beloved dish there’s even a World Scouse Day – 28th February.
All you need now is the best recipe, but as this has never been established I have two for you.
The first comes from the prestigious ‘Boot Room Sports Cafe’ at Liverpool FC. Chef Christian Grall’s scouse has been on the menu at ‘The Boot Room’ since it first opened, he says, ‘It truly is a dish that represents Liverpool and everything that Liverpool FC as a cub is about – tradition, quality, history and family’.
If you can’t get down to ‘The Boot Room’ you can try Christians recipe for yourself;
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 tablespoons olive oil
700g diced chuck steak
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
400g diced onion (cut into 1cm pieces)
350g diced swede (cut into 1.5cm cubes)
350g carrots (cut into 1.5cm cubes)
600g peeled and diced potatoes (cut into 1.5cm cubes)
1.2 litres beef stock
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat (gas mark 4/180C/350F) for about 1 minute.
Add 700g diced chuck steak and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until meat is evenly browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the onions and cook until soft.
Add the bitter and boil until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add the diced and peeled carrot, swede and half of the potato, followed by bay leaves and the sprig of thyme.
Then add in the beef stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add in the rest of the potato and simmer for an hour and a half until the meat is tender. Check the seasoning and serve.
At the Boot Room Sports Café, scouse is served in the traditional way – with pickled beetroot and pickled cabbage, chunky sliced white bread and butter.
The second scouse recipe I have for you has come from famous Scouser Paul O’Grady. Paul gave out his recipe on World Scouse Day when he gave the Hollywood Icon Lauren Bacall her first taste of his home towns traditional meal.
Ingredients (Serves: 4-6)
250g beef stew meat
250g breast of lamb
1 large onion
2 broth cubes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Cut the meat into large cubes and fry in the vegetable oil until lightly browned all over.
If you like, add some Worcester Sauce at this point for added flavour.
Place meat in a large saucepan and add the onion that should have been chopped into large chunks.
Chop the carrot into medallions and place this on the meat.
Peel and then finely dice 1lb of the potatoes and place on top of the carrots.
Fill the frying pan with cold water until it is half full.
Break up the Oxo cubes and sprinkle into the water. Add salt and pepper for seasoning. Let the pan simmer gently, stirring occasionally.
The large pieces of onion will start to break up and the potato will become soft and will make the final sauce thick. Simmer for a total of two hours, and then add the remaining potatoes that should have been peeled and roughly chopped, along with a few splashes of Worcester Sauce.
Simmer for another two hours.
Serve piping hot with red cabbage, beetroot, pickled onions and crusty bread. You may add Ketchup and HP for flavouring.
If you’d rather eat out, follow the link below to see The Culture Trips guide to the best scouse in the City.