Lincolnshire Pigs Fry Casserole Recipe

This is a casserole of pigs fry topped with sliced potatoes, my adaptation of a traditional meal suggested by my friendly, local butcher.

Pigs fry (aka pork fry) is a traditional Lincolnshire meat dish featuring the cheaper but tastier parts of the pig. In the oldest versions, scraps of pork meat such as pork belly are mixed with various pieces of kidney, liver, heart, lights (lungs) and sweetbreads. Pigs fry can be cooked in a casserole or, as the name suggests, in a frying pan. Many traditional Lincolnshire butchers will sell it although today, people tend to prefer it without so much offal. My local butcher's standard offering has pieces of pork shoulder with kidney and liver. You can, of course, make up the pigs fry yourself – the mixture needs to be about 50% pork meat (e.g. belly, shoulder), with the remainder made up of various parts of offal. The pieces need to be bitesize around 3-4cm cubes or so.

Here's a recipe for a casserole of pigs fry, cooked on the stove, which means a casserole pan with a well fitting lid is needed. Unlike a beef casserole, it is not dark brown in colour but quite pale; moreover, it's a traditional recipe which should not be embellished with things like tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce or Mediterranean herbs. The flavour is characterised by sage, onion and black pepper, just like the traditional Lincolnshire sausage and, speaking of which, you can add pieces of Lincolnshire sausage to the recipe as well. The dish has a potato topping but is not mashed like a cottage pie; it's a sliced potato topping but the slices are not hard like a Lancashire hotpot. The slices of potato should be collapsing into the sauce, thickening it yet at the same time holding just enough texture to be identifiable as potato pieces. Serve with plenty of boiled cabbage or peas.

To serve 3-4:

500g Lincs pigs fry
1 or 2 Lincolnshire sausages (optional)
6 large Lincolnshire white potatoes, cut into thin slices.
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 pints of chicken stock (or pork stock or vegetable stock)
2 tablespoons dried sage
flour, salt, black pepper, butter

Put the Lincs pigs fry into a bowl, season and mix with plenty of flour, covering all the individual pieces of meat, but shake off any excess. In a large casserole pan, heat a few knobs of butter and add the onions. (If you want Lincolnshire sausages too, cut them into pieces and add them in). Fry for a couple of minutes and then add the pigs fry. Cook for a few more minutes until nicely browned. Add the carrots, sage and grind very plentiful amounts of black pepper over it all. Just like the wonderful Lincolnshire sausage, this dish is characterised by lots of sage and black pepper.

Then add the chicken / pork stock - you can use vegetable stock as well depending on the nature of your pigs fry. If the pigs fry has a lot of offal, there will be plenty of rich meat flavour so you might prefer to use a vegetable stock instead of chicken or pork. Bring it up to the boil, and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. L
ayer the slices of potato on top of the casserole and replace the lid. Leave for two hours although if you are using pork belly or other fatty pieces, you may want to skim off the fat occasionally.

These layered slices of potato make the dish look rather like a traditional Lancashire hotpot but, with the lid on, the potatoes will steam and become quite mushy. By contrast, the Lancashire hotpot is put into an oven without a lid so that the potato is harder, even crispy, rather like roast potatoes. I like to think of this potato topping as halfway between the mashed potato topping of a cottage pie and the harder/roast potato topping of a Lancashire hotpot. Because the potatoes are half collapsing, they help to thicken the sauce but should have just enough bite and body to be recognisable as chunks of potato. To that end, it won't matter if some of your slices are thicker or thinner – the thinner pieces will melt away and thicken the sauce, while the thicker pieces will remain more solid as identifiable pieces of potato.

Once the potatoes are done, check for seasoning and serve with boiled cabbage or peas.