Great British dishes - #2 Stovies

For the second of our Great British dishes, we're venturing north of the border into Scotland to take a look at a dish called "stovies".

Now I'm guessing that unless you're Scottish or have ventured into Scotland on more than one occasion you have no idea what stovies are. Or is.

Like any dish in any country, everybody has their own little recipe but essentially, stovies is a simple but deliciously tasty and warming, Scottish potato-based dish. Stovies is traditionally a dish made to use up left over food from the good old Sunday roast and contains any of the following: onions, carrots, turnips, other vegetables, roast meat and dripping - all literally chucked into one pot.

Meat used varies from chicken, beef and lamb, though beef is considered king of meats with this dish. Some people actually use tinned corned beef, making it not dissimilar to corned beef hash.

Name origins

There are a number of claimed origins for the name "stovies":

The National Trust for Scotland book, The Scottish Kitchen, by Christopher Trotter, describes that the meal gets its name from the French word "étuvé" which means cooked in its own juices, i.e. steamed or braised.

Late 19th century: from Scots "stove" - to stew meat or vegetables, perhaps partly from the Dutch "stoven" - stew.

Some say that it is because all the meat, vegetables, fat and gravy were left over on the stove from the Sunday roast.

Cooking method

If you ask a hundred Scots how to cook stovies you will get a hundred different answers, but basically, this is how it should be done:

Stew the potatoes with stock, fat and meat, slowly in a lidded pot. Lard, beef dripping or butter may be used as the fat. Stovies may be accompanied by oatcakes.

Stovies should be moist but not runny. The potatoes should be sliced thickly and disintegrating, not chunky or mashed. And the meat, the meat should be shredded beef or lamb; it should not be chicken or corned beef or sausages. Finally, stovies should be served with oatcakes and beetroot.
— Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking




4 oz cold, diced lamb or beef
1½ lb potatoes, peeled and sliced. Some people use alternate thin and thicker slices - the thin ones then turn to mush
1 or 2 large onions, very thinly sliced.
1 level tablespoon good quality dripping (from meat or bacon).
Stock to cover
Salt and pepper, nutmeg or all-spice for seasoning
Chopped parsley or chives



Melt the dripping in a large pan (preferably with a tight fitting lid), add a layer of sliced potatoes, then a layer of onion and next a layer of meat.

Add enough stock or water to cover.

Then repeat the layers once again and season the dish thoroughly - in addition to salt and plenty pepper, add some nutmeg or all-spice.

Cover and cook over a low to moderate heat (shaking the pan occasionally) for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley or chives.


Recipe courtesy of Rampant Scotland

Quote courtesy of A Wee Bit of Cooking

Image by Alfred Lui


Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK