What is Scouse?

What is Scouse?


Why it’s the dialect or accent of people from Liverpool I hear you cry! Yes, you are correct but it is also a type of beef or lamb stew and is indeed why inhabitants from Liverpool are known as Scousers.

It’s uncertain where the word originated from but possibly lobscouse (later shortened to scouse) was corrupted from the Norwegian lapskaus, Swedish lapskojs and Danish labskovs or the Low German Labskaus, and refers to a stew commonly eaten by sailors. Liverpool being a very important port in the 18th and 19th Century, would have been the destination of many an overseas sailor and thus influenced by these visitor’s different cultures, habits and food.

In the days of sail, lobscouse was made from the dried meat and dried ship’s biscuits from the stores. Making these staple foods into a stew would have improved the texture and flavour of these bland ingredients. Once adopted on land and with more ingredients available, carrots, potatoes and onions were added. Some will say (but not in earshot of a Scouser) it is very much like a Lancashire Hotpot!

Today scouse can be found in restaurants and cafes all over Liverpool. There are many recipes proclaiming to be the best scouse recipe so which one to choose? Well, I think perhaps the best place to look should be none other than Premier League leaders, Liverpool Football Club. Since 1892 LFC has been serving scouse to players and supporters alike. Here is their “world’s best” scouse recipe:

Ingredients for Scouse (serves four)

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 700g of diced steak (preferably chuck)
  • 2 couple of bay leaves
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 400g of diced onion (seems an awful lot!)
  • 350g diced carrot
  • 350g of diced swede
  • 600g potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1.2l of beef stock
  • 500ml bitter beer

Then you need to heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and brown the steak on all sides, season with salt and pepper.

Once the steak is browned add the onion and cook until soft. Stir to make sure these do not stick.

Add the beer to the steak and onions and boil until the bitter has reduced by half the volume.

Add the carrots, swede, half the potatoes, the bay leaves, thyme and beef stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the remaining potatoes and simmer for one and a half hours until the meat is tender. Check the seasoning adding more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with chunky bread and butter and if you are a real Scouser then you may want to include sides of pickled beetroot and pickled cabbage!


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