Potted, Meat, Fish, and Shellfish

A colleague asked what ever happened to potted salmon, potted shrimp, and potted beef?

Well that is certainly a tough question to answer and one that we had been talking about quite recently, when we found that we could only obtain Morecambe bay potted shrimps online, Maureen loves Morecambe Bay potted shrimp especially from Baxters and I adore potted crab and potted ham and yes my friend you are right potted meats are very hard to find.
We now make our own, and we are not alone in thinking that chefs today must start putting them on their menus once again below is a quote from Michael Smith found in his book “Fine English Cookery
“The great British skill of potting meat and fish seems to have been for the most part forgotten by most of today’s chefs. Well made potted foods are national dishes of which we should be justly proud.” (Michael Smith, Fine English Cookery).

Maureen and I have been making, serving and eating potted meats and fish for most of our working lives, potted beef, potted shrimps, potted salmon and potted game are national treasures and the meat and fish pastes we see in the shops and supermarkets no matter how bland are all based on the cooking technique we call potting and it is such a disgrace that this form of cooking is/has been forgotten by our leading chefs.

There was a minute, about 15 years ago, when potted meats and fish should/could have made a comeback, contemporary British cooking had rejected the so-called “Nouvelle Cuisine” both chefs and their customers were responding quite angrily in opposition to daft combinations associated with miniscule portions and astronomical prices.

Rustic, homemade, home cooked and other descriptions started being used and it was thought that a return to good British culinary practices was making a return, what happened?
Nothing and we blame the experimental chefs with their scientific attitude, in some ways it was fusion cuisine, we could blame Jamie and his continental influence, it was sous-vide (to me that was just a way to get “Boil-in-the-Bag” a respectable image), water baths and other new equipment, the modern chef and the celebrity chef/cook was too busy trying to find new producers or crafting new dishes that took 20 minutes or less to prepare to look back in time to a period of good honest simple cooking.

If they had looked back to that period of time when chef’s like Albert and Michel Roux were setting up La Gavroche, when John Tovey of Miller Howe was being his brilliant self, or even further back to Elizabeth David and Isabella Mary Beeton they would have found vanished parts of our very own repertoire such as: Pâtés, Terrines, Mousses, Rillettes and of course Potting meat, which when you think about it is the cooking cousin of Rillettes.

Just have a browse through old recipe books and you’ll find ways of potting every kind of meat and fish, from kippers, salmon, and shellfish to beef, pork, ham, and chicken, and from rabbit to venison.
Potted meats and fish are likely to be more or less rich, both from rendered fat or butter; than Rillettes, also they have more diverse seasonings than would be used in France, Spain, and Italy.
Mace is the most usual spice used, although cayenne, ginger, nutmeg and black or white pepper is commonly used as well.

Potted foods were meant to be used as stored foods pretty much like the meat pastes of today and when I was learning my craft they were frequently made from leftovers you can make potted meat from any leftover roast. Just chop the meat and mix with melted butter, cayenne, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and mace with a little nutmeg, set into a dish with a few herbs or a bay leaf on top, this is my take on Rillettes, an uplifting meal they should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge although why keep them in the fridge just eat them with some toast, homemade relish and some salad.

So I say bring back our potted meats, fish and seafood, bring back our terrines, mousses and pastes they make a great starters, snacks and sandwich fillers and what’s more they are kind to your pocket and it is beginning to happen!
Michel Roux serves a beautiful Classic duck foie gras terrine at La Gavroche, Mike Robinson owner of the highly acclaimed Pot Kiln Pub and Restaurant in Yattendon, Berkshire  makes a delightful potted venison and other brave chefs  and establishments such as “The Walrus and The Carpenter” 45 Monument Street, London serve a tasty potted beef at under a fiver.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a great advocate of potting and making terrines and even Jamie has got back on track with a recipe for “Old-fashioned potted crab” although I can’t see a lot of differences between that recipe and a traditional recipe that we use, having said that it is wonderful to see that other chefs across the land are now serving potted meat, fish and shellfish in their restaurants, pubs and bistros.

Below and on MyDish you will find recipes from myself and others for potted meat, fish and shellfish recipes and served with crusty bread, toast, and some salads and chutneys you will be able to serve up to friends and families a amazingly flavoursome meal.

On MyDish you will find recipes for;

Potted Beef and Potted Crab below are recipes from Jo Pratt and myself.

Jo Pratt’s Potted Prawns and Crab

These little pots of juicy prawns and sweet crabmeat in a delicate, dill-flavoured butter are perfect for a beach picnic. Spread over some rye or crusty bread for a light, tasty nibble, so says Jo Pratt from the Mail online and we have just got to agree with her and you do not need to change any of this recipe it is as tasty as it is scrumptious!

Serves / Makes: 2 servings
Prep-Time:  10 minutes plus 1 hour to chill
75 grams, unsalted butter
100 grams, cooked and peeled small Atlantic prawns
100 grams, white crabmeat (preferably fresh but tinned is fine)
1 teaspoon chopped dill
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper
Rye or crusty brown bread
Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and pour into a jug for all the milky solids to sink to the bottom.
Mix together the prawns, crab, dill and lemon zest and season with salt and a shake of cayenne pepper. Divide between a couple of small pots or ramekins and pack down really well with the back of a spoon. Pour over the clear (clarified) butter to just cover the mixture, leaving behind the milky solids. Chill in the fridge for about 45 minutes to set the butter.
Cover each pot with cling-film and pack in a cool bag with your chosen bread. Don’t forget some napkins and a couple of knives to scoop out, spread the potted prawns, and crab on to the bread Serve and Enjoy!
Read more see Jo Pratt on the Mail Online
Jo Pratt is a regular face on Market Kitchen cooking delicious no-fuss recipes.
Jo graduated in July 1995 from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA honours degree in Home Economics. She went on to work with Gary Rhodes at the BBC Good Food Show in November 1996, before becoming the main home economist for all his series and books.
Jo has worked with many other celebrity chefs including Ainsley Harriot, Anthony Worrall Thompson, Jamie Oliver, Tony Tobin, and Brian Turner on various television, demonstrations, and photography projects.
Readers of Elle magazine will be familiar with her monthly food column, Elle’s Kitchen. She co-wrote The Nation’s Favourite Food in 2003, and provided the recipes for dishes voted for by the British public to accompany the eponymous titled TV series. This year, Jo published her new book In the Mood for Food.

Potted Shrimp

Sweet succulent brown shrimp enveloped in a seasoned butter encapsulating a revered stylishness that is simply wonderful for a summery starter or light lunch.

Coming from Lancashire we have always had Morecambe bay potted shrimps, and when we were at the Willow Tree restaurant at Bolton-le-Sands just outside Morecambe we always used to serve Baxters of Morecambe potted shrimps. After a couple of years and we were moving down to the Great Tree Hotel, Chagford, Devon this was about 1979, I cheekily asked for their recipe, they refused of course but with a little persistence I was able to obtain this recipe not the original but close enough and it quickly became very popular with the patrons at the Great Tree Hotel.
At Baxters they have been producing Morecambe bay potted shrimps since 1799 and are extremely proud to be the oldest and most traditional such company in the country let alone Morecambe. They pride themselves on quality and their potted shrimps have achieved the highest accolade with the granting of royal warrant in the 1970’s which they retain to this day based on a totally unique recipe which has been handed down through the family for seven generations.

Serves / Makes: 6 servings
Prep-Time:  15 minutes
Cook-Time:  5 minutes
170 grams unsalted butter
1 teaspoon, ground black pepper
½ teaspoon, ground mace
½ teaspoon, ground cayenne pepper
1 small bay leaf
500 grams, peeled brown shrimps
Wholemeal brown bread, to serve
3 lemons cut into wedges
In a saucepan melt the butter then add the ground black pepper, mace, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf allow the butter to cool until it is just warm, remove the bay leaf.
Place the shrimp equally into 6 ramekins cover with the spiced butter and a little salt place into the fridge and chill until set.
Toast the bread and serve warm with the potted shrimp and a wedge of lemon and enjoy!
Potted shrimps, old fashioned and buttery are eternally associated with Morecambe bay in Lancashire, where shrimps are potted to this day. The main season for them is from August bank holiday (the last Monday in August) to Christmas and it is the peeling that makes potting shrimps so labour intensive thus expensive.
Morecambe bay brown shrimps are celebrated for their delicate taste and unique texture; they have been caught by local fishermen for hundreds of years. Even though the fishing methods have changed, with the horse and cart being replaced by the tractor, locals still follow the same traditional recipes that have been passed down in their families. Locally caught shrimps, boiled in butter with a secret combination of spices until they are tender they are then sealed with butter and packed into pots, they can be eaten either warm or cold.

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