Scouse for tea.

Scouse, buttered cabbage, olive bread and glass of beer

Show me a more tasty and easier dinner than that? I made it yesterday in my slow cooker, cooked it all day, then let it cool and in the evening put it in the fridge. When I got home tonight I just had to heat it up. You’ll hear a lot of talk about owning a slow cooker and returning home to a house perfumed with heady scents of long cooked stews and sauces, and that’s fine…

..however the reason I cook it and then let it cool the day before is two fold. One, I can keep an eye on it, two: things always taste better the next day, when the flavours have set. Another reason is that you might not make it home. I was once out with some friends, and it was one of those quick one’s after work that was just turning into something crazy when a colleague announced he couldn’t get another drink in because ‘he had to go home and turn his slow cooker off’. How we laughed! No one wants to be in that position.

So – Scouse, the iconic stew of Liverpool that gives Scousers their name. Like seemingly everything these days there’s a 100 different variant recipes on the internet, here’s some of them:-

Liverpool City portal – Neck of Lamb or Beef, potatoes, carrots
Ciao – Minced beef ? Wtf! But at least it’s got pearl barley in it
Recipe Source – Beef, potatoes, carrots
Merseyside today – Beef or lamb, cabbage and tomatoes?!
Sugervine – Beef and lamb
The Foodie – Beef and lamb, thyme
UKTV Food – Beef, carrots, potatoes, red wine?!!
Recipezaar – lamb potatoes
..and some guy on Youtube who cuts his veg with a carving knife.

Wikipedia and the scouser tell tales of the etymology of the word. The other thing you’ll hear is ‘each family has their own version’, but I just wonder how many families in Liverpool sit down to a bowl of scouse these days? William Black couldn’t find any in his ‘The land that thyme forgot‘, though he describes it as being made with silverside. Also perhaps unsurprisingly there’s no mention of it in my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, though much is made of other country’s ‘poor folk’ dishes – pah!

For me scouse has got to be made with lamb, if only to maintain some geographical continuity. To the west – Irish stew, made with lamb. To the east, Lancashire hot pot, made with lamb. But then if a ‘born in the shadow of the Liver building’ scouser makes it with beef, who am I to argue?

Well, for what it’s worth here’s my version. (makes enough for two in my slow cooker)

150g (two bits) lamb neck fillet cut into chunks
1 large carrot cut into chunks not rounds (I hate carrots shaped like 50p’s)
1 parsnip into chunks like the carrot
1 small potato cut in chunks
handful of pearl barley
1 glass of water
1 glass white wine (yeah I know not trad, but hey)
Salt & Pepper.

Method: I sweat the onion and the veg chunks in a little butter to get them going. Then seal but not brown the lamb. Pop the lot in a slow cooker, put a clean tea towel over the top and leave for ages.

Serve with cabbage shredded fine, boiled quick, and then wilted with a little butter and loads of pepper. Or if using red cabbage, white/red wine vinegar and a little all spice.

And to watch while eating this, maybe the new video, Home, by Amsterdam, Liverpool’s finest band. Who I last saw two years ago at the Borderline.

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2 Responses to “Scouse for tea.”


  1. 1 Jimster December 10, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I always use beef, but that’s because my mum did (and because if you get decent beef, it’s just better than lamb). Never used pearl barley though. Might try that.

    Haven’t made Scouse in ages though, because you need to spend a lot to get decent beef, whereas you can use the same recipe with chicken for an excellent chicken casserole.

    And I don’t do 50p carrots either. I cut them lengthways before I chop them up.

  2. 2 Anne Parry March 20, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Hey! Why do you scousers always forget the North Walians? Beef scouse is a bastardised version of scaws/scows/lobscaws we make from lamb. (A lot of sheep in North Wales.) Got to admit that we probably got it from Scandinavian seafarers who collected coal and slate. Our contribution was the pearl barley.


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