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Traditional Scottish Stovies with Oatcakes and Beetroot – Slow Cooked & with the Kids Baked Beans to serve.

What better cold weather fare could there be.   Stovies used to be made in generations gone by in our ancestors family when it was washing day, or when the nets had to be hauled down to the boats and the women didn’t have time to make a big meal for the family.

They stayed close to home on stovie days as they had to carry their men onto the fishing boats to keep them dry.  We’re talking little women carrying huge strapping 6 + footers from the side of the piers right into their boats.  With their skirts and feet soaking and cold in the North Sea, it was a hard, miserable and tough life.

Often battling against misery and exhaustion, they would come back to their stovies simmering on the pot, and ready to fill empty bellies.

Unable to stray far from the home while they were cooking, this was a method of slow cooking that needed regular stirring couldn’t be made on market days when the women would have to carry the catch in a creel on their backs for miles to sell it at market.

Most people who make stovies today, are really only  making a type of hash with boiled potatoes and meat mixed in.  For real stovies, the potatoes need to be stoved.  They are dry and not waxy, and they break apart in the mouth when you eat them.

I’ve only ever made them in a thick bottomed pan before, so this method is a new (and easier) way of doing it for me.

The quantities mentioned in this recipe are for guidance only.  This would generally have been Monday’s meal, after the Sunday roast, and using up the leftovers of meat, potatoes and sometimes other vegetables would be added in a sort of bubble and squeak effect.

My stovies are wickedly tasty ones, made with the meat and gravy from nice large chunks of a fillet steak joint that I got from Andrew Gordon  Butchery in Aberdeen.  I am always spoiled for choice when I go in there and good meat really makes a difference to the taste of a finished dish.

Slow Cooked Traditional Scottish Stovies with Oatcakes and Beetroot (and the kids beans)

Lesley Smith
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Course Mains
Servings 6


  • 3 KG Potatoes Maris Pipers, King Edwards or Roosters - Peeled and Chopped
  • 1 - 2 Onions Chopped
  • 100 Grams Dripping Beef Dripping, Goose Fat or Vegetable Dripping
  • 1 KG Meat Usually Pork or Beef - Already Cooked
  • 200 Grams Gravy From the Pork or Beef
  • Salt & Pepper For cooking.


  • In a saucepan, melt approximately 100g of your lard. This will be quicker than you expect.

  • Add the onions to the pan and lightly fry.

  • Make sure that the onions are still white and are not cooked long enough to begin turning brown.

  • Add the onions, lard and your potatoes to the slow cooker and stir until all the potatoes are coated in lard. If you have to add some more, add it a teaspoon at a time, as it is easy to use too much lard.

  • Add a few spoons of the gravy from your meat, a couple of tablespoons of water, and a couple of pinches of salt.

  • Cook for 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.

  • You will need to check the pot every hour and if you need to add a little extra water, do it a teaspoon at a time. You only want just enough to stop the potatoes from burning into the pot.

  • Don't mash the potatoes as when they are ready, they will break down with the stirring.

  • Add in your meat with a few more spoonfuls of gravy.

  • Cook until the meat is thoroughly heated.

  • Normally, you would shred your meat or cut it really small, but my boys like their meat in hunky chunks so my pictures are not the effect you would get if you shredded your meat before adding it.

  • Serve with oatcakes and beetroot with a glass of milk for the traditional fare, or add beans like the Scottish Mum Kids.

If you want to make your own oatcakes, try Traditional Scottish Oatcakes.


8 thoughts on “Traditional Scottish Stovies with Oatcakes and Beetroot – Slow Cooked & with the Kids Baked Beans to serve.

  1. My Dad always used Burdall’s gravy browning (just like his mom did!) and it gave the stovies a lovely colour and flavour. Boy, I miss that!
    Our preference was to make this with leftover lamb – tastiest of all in my opinion

  2. Not sure I believe the story about the women carrying the men out to the boats? That can’t be right…

    1. Yes, it was. That’s the womens history. They also carried heavy Creels full of fish for miles to market in Aberdeen. It was the fishing way of life. It had to be done, so they did it. It’s why farm/city girls rarely ever married into fishing families, as they knew the work was too hard. If the men got onto the boats wet, they’d stay wet. Not like today, with heat. It’s my family history.

  3. I think postsin this category of your blog are a rather unusual interpretation of the phrase ‘slow cooking’; are you aware of the other use of the term – a movement which began in Italy in 1986, intended to preserve regional produce and cuisines, and as a comment on ‘fast’ food?

  4. I,ve always made mine with water. What an unusual story to it all. If you know what I mean.

    1. With water is more adding meat to boiled or mashed potatoes, similar to a corned beef has type of thing. Stovies, pretty much cooked on the stove suit the slow cooking method really wall.

  5. Wow a different combination of oatcakes and beetroot, really amazing, i never seen this combination before, i really got a new dish for Christmas eve… wonderful!!!

    1. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

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