I went to Liverpool a few weeks ago. As a tourist of this wonderful city, I tried to find a restaurant where I could eat the regional meal of the Merseyside, the Lobscouse, or simply, Scouse. Unfortunately, I didn't find the perfect place to taste the famous dish which has given its name to the Liverpudlian accent.
After looking for how cooking the Scouse, I discovered the recipe was similar to a meal from my French native region. It's similar to a dish from the winters of my childhood: 'Boeuf Bourguignon'. The French just add wine (of course), and a 'bouquet garni' (bundle of herbs).
I wonder if the Lobscouse/Scouse could be an international common basic recipe which was imported to the port of Liverpool? In Wales, it's calls Lobscaws, Lobsgaws, or Cawl, while the Scouse is named Lobby in Stoke-on-Trent. Wherever I've found it, the recipe is the same with some variations of vegetables and meats.
Where does Lobscouse/Scouse come from exactly?
Liverpool, home of the Scouse? (©A.Saboureau)
Originally, the Scouse comes from a Scandinavian dish called the Labskaus and from the Irish stews which were brought in by the first European immigrants on the Liverpudlian docks. The name was modified from Lobscouse to Scouse with time. The potato-based stew with carrots and onions and some meats (lamb , beef or bacon) was a complete and practical dish to prepare when you needed to work hard on the docks.
Liverpool is also known to have an important connection with Ireland and the rest of Europe. The British seaport was the second to welcome the Irish community during the Great Hunger in the 19th century. Later, the European immigrants came to leave the Old Continent. Thousands of those ate that meal waiting for the great Atlantic crossing from Liverpool to the United States. In the local pubs, the Scouse was considered as a cheap and healthy meal. Later, it became a culinary symbol remembering the glorious past of the city.
The only obligatory ingredients are the potatoes and the onions. You can add what you want to that recipe base.
Lamb or beef
Wine or ale
1. Brown the meat on all sides and set aside.
2. Brown the onions and other vegetables.
3. Return the meat to the dish.
4. Season, add your wine or ale, and your potatoes.
5. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for at least two hours until the meat is tender and the potatoes are soft.