Tag Archives: Lancashire

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.

Lancashire Pea and Ham Soup

Lancashire Pea and Ham Soup (1) Once again, delightful memories of childhood, this soup was a winter staple at our house and this recipe has been passed down for at least 4 generations.

There is a lot of history to pea soup and not just in Lancashire, The traditional English pea soup was made with dried peas, and its greeny-brown colour was so similar to the dense smog that dominated London in the winter (until as late as the 1960s), that the smog became known as a ‘pea-souper’. In Bleak House, Dickens referred to the fog as the ‘London Particular’, and the name has been used for both fog and soup ever since.

Dried peas are a healthy and nutritious low-cost vegetable. They make an excellent meal extender and when puréed, they form the base of many dishes from the traditional pea soup to the more unusual vegetable pâtés and fritters.

Soak and cook more dried peas than necessary. They can be refrigerated or frozen all set to serve as a vegetable or added to casseroles, pies, and soups. It is a little less trouble to make the soup with split peas, which have no skins, and here there is a selection of green or yellow. While there is no difference in the taste, the latter give the soup a pleasing golden colour.

Serves/Makes: 10 servings

Prep-Time: 10 minutes

Cook-Time: 2 hours

You Will Need;

1 pound, marrowfat peas (dried)

8 cups, ham stock, if at all possible homemade (see below)

2 ribs of celery, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves (1 teaspoon dried)

½-teaspoon cracked black pepper

½-teaspoon sea salt

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups diced ham, preferably from the ham hock you have just used to make the stock


Soak the peas as directed on the packet (or see notes) then in a large soup pan add the peas, water celery, carrots, onion, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes now reduce the heat to slow simmer cover the pan and cook 45 to 60 minutes until the peas are tender.

Add the parsley and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes until thick now you can puree the peas in a blender or pass through a sieve or just leave as is if you like a chunky soup. Fine-tune the seasoning, add the diced ham, and serve with a swirl of cream or a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top.

A Few Notes about Dried Peas Soaking Dried Peas;

Overnight Method, Put 1 cup / 200grams / 7 ounces dried peas into a large bowl with 3 cups / 700ml / 1¼ pints tepid water. Do not add any salt.

Quick soak Method, Put 1 cup / 200grams / 7 ounces dried peas into a large saucepan with 3 cups / 700ml / 1¼ pints water. Bring to the boil and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover pan and leave to stand for one hour.


Cooking dried peas, on the stove drain the water from the soaked peas and move peas to a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of fresh water, cover and bring slowly to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to a simmer cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. The longer the soaking time, the shorter the cooking time. If necessary add salt during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

In a slow cooker, proceed as above, adding to the slow cooker after boiling rapidly on the stove for 10 minutes.

In the microwave, soak 225g (½ lb) dried peas overnight. Drain peas then transfer to a 2 litre (3½ pt) glass bowl. Add sufficient boiling water to come 1.25cm (½") above peas. Cover and stand bowl on glass plate in case water boils over. Cook on full power for 30 minutes, checking water level after 20 minutes. Top up with boiling water if necessary. Keep covered and leave to stand for 10 minutes. 650-watt microwave.

Store dried peas at room temperature in a covered container for up to one year. Canned peas should be stored in a cool dry place and should be used within one year.

Soaked or cooked dried peas can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Cooked dried peas can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Ham Stock

Ham stock is simple to make and it’s incredibly useful for enriching sauces and soups. Ham stock is very gelatinous and after being left in the fridge overnight, it will turn to meat jelly. Ooh scrumptious meat jellies.

Serves/Makes: 4 to 5 pints

Prep-Time: 10 minutes plus overnight soaking

Cook-Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Tags: Stocks, Bouillons, Ham, Ham Hock

You Will Need;

1 ham hock, about 2 pounds (900 grams) in weight

6 pints water (3.5 litres)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 onions, peeled and chopped

1 head of celery, washed and chopped

12 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf


Do not whatsoever add salt it does not need it.

To start the stock, cover the ham hock with cold water and soak overnight.

Drain off the soaking water, and cover the ham hock with the measured cold water, bring to the boil and skim off any scum, then add the carrots, onions and celery, leave simmer gently (we call this ticking over) for about 30 minutes, then add the peppercorns and bay leaf, lightly simmer 2 hours until the ham is cooked through.

Watch it carefully; you do not want the stock to reduce too much, strain off the stock, Put the ham to one side, and discard the vegetables and flavourings the ham you can use foe soups, sandwiches and even salads for pea and ham soup you will need about 3 pints.

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