The History of Scouse
The term Scouse, as in Scouser, is a contraction of labskause or lobscouse – a stew commonly eaten by sailors throughout northern Europe which as a result became popular in seaports such as Liverpool.
The name derives from Lapskaus, a Norwegian stew of meat and vegetables. Its name can also be found in Sweden (lobskas), Denmark (labskous), and Germany (labskaus) but in those countries it denotes a dry dish similar to hash.
The first known use of the term lobscouse was in 1706, according to Webster’s dictionary, but the roots of the dish are unknown. Nineteenth century sailors made lobscouse by boiling salted meat, onions and pepper, with ship’s biscuit used to thicken the dish. Some say it was eaten as far back as on the Mayflower in 1620 – finding a definitive answer is roughly as easy as finding a consensus on whether the dish should be cooked with lamb or beef. Or both.
There are records showing that it was also served to the inmates of the Birkenhead workhouse in 1864, although the recipe was considerably simpler back then. Also, blind Scouse was a meatless variation eaten by poorer people.
Still popular in Liverpool and North Wales today, it has developed into numerous versions that belie the dish’s thrifty origins. The same ingredients usually dominate but the method and specifics will vary from home to home. That said, here is a simple and fairly basic recipe – feel free to play around with it.
To serve four people. Approx. three to four hours cooking time.
- 800g of meat – either lamb or beef. Cut is not always important but if you opt for beef, shin is good and cheap.
- One large onion
- 500g carrots
- 2kg of potatoes
- 1pt Stock
- Worcester sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Two tbsp. vegetable oil
- Herbs can be added if you wish – use rosemary for lamb or thyme for beef
Season and dust the meat with flour before lightly frying in a large high-sided pan. When browned all over add the onion, chopped into large chunks.
Peel and roughly chop your potatoes and carrots before adding to the top of your meat and onions – at this point you only need to add half of the potatoes.
Pour your stock over the top of the dish and add enough water to just about cover the top.
Add your Worcester sauce and salt and pepper to taste. If you have opted for herbs, you will want to add these a little later on.
Bring the pan to the boil and then cover and simmer for around two hours, stirring occasionally.
Now add the rest of your potatoes before bringing the pot to the boil again. Then cover and place on a low heat for 1.5 hours.
Serve immediately with bread, pickled beetroot or cabbage and HP sauce if required
Scouse is a great meal to create when you have leftover vegetables you need to use. Scouse will also last a fair while, so freezing and saving for another day will not be a problem!
About the Author
Guest post contributed by Olivia Wilde. An avid cook who loves finding new recipes from all around the world & putting them onto the plate! Would be lost without her AGA Range Cookers when it comes to creating these brilliant meals through recipes she has found.