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    Potted Beef

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    Potted Beef

    Potting has been with us for centuries. Not as in pottery, but as in the best of all thrifty ways to turn leftovers, excesses and cheap cuts into delicious snacking food, and to extend their shelf life. Potted meats and fish are, obviously, the antecedents of the beef and fish pastes that might once have sweltered in sandwiches tucked into bicycle saddlebags or picnic hampers. This particular recipe for potted beef, made from scratch and lightly spiced was given to me by Anne Petch, the traditional meat producer at Heal Farm in Devon, many years ago. It redeems the meat paste sandwich: spread thickly in sturdy bread, with slices of tomato or cucumber, and mildly bitter crisp salad leaves to add freshness. Or serve it as a first course, with thick slices of hot griddled bread, a light salad and pickled walnuts.

    • Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling
    • Cooking time: 300 minutes
    • Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 15 minutes

    Serves: 6


    • 450g stewing steak, cubed
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
    • 1 tbsp anchovy essence or anchovy sauce
    • 110g unsalted butter, sliced


    1. Place the meat in a small ovenproof dish with a tight-fitting lid. Season with the pepper, nutmeg and anchovy essence. Lay the butter over the top. Cover tightly, adding a layer of foil under the lid if necessary and cook for 5 hours at 140°C, gas mark 1, until the meat is extremely tender.
    2. Once the meat has been in the oven for a couple of hours, give it a stir, then cover again and return to the oven. Once it's cooked, cool slightly, then blend in a food processor until it's smooth, pale and light. Taste and add salt only if necessary (the anchovy essence will probably have provided enough saltiness). Pack the paste into ramekins, cover with clingfilm, and stash them in the fridge for 2 hours to solidify. It will keep for up to four days.

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    Drinks recommendation

    The tasty, fatty, salty tang of potted beef chimes beautifully with the savoury, almost smoky taste of a Syrah.


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