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Prep 15 mins
Cook 24 hrs
An old-fashioned treat, this is a fabulous way to use up left over ham, although I have also put some freshly cooked ham aside especially for this when I have baked a ham for Christmas, Easter or another special occasion. The ham is finely minced and mixed through with old-fashioned spices and butter, and it keeps for several weeks in a cool place. Another name for this recipe is Potted Meat, and it was VERY popular in Victorian times, although recipes for potted meats (preserved under butter) goes back even further than that historically. Wonderful in sandwiches for the teatime table or for picnics, lunch boxes and festive buffets. This is an adapted recipe from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, where she suggests that this is a nice addition for the “Breakfast or Luncheon table”. Serve with sliced breads of all types, oatcakes, toast, bread rolls, and crackers or with salad, chutneys, mustard and pickles. NB: Use a good cooked ham on the bone for this recipe: the sort carved by hand at the deli and old-fashioned butchers. So called "cooking time" is chill time.
- How to clarify butter: Place all of the butter in a small pan over a low heat and let it melt gently. Place a clean piece of muslin in to a sieve over a bowl, then pour the butter through the cloth and sieve very gently, trying to keep as much of the cloudy milk solids in the pan as possible. You should be left with a clear, golden liquid (clarified butter) in the bowl. Discard the milky solids left in the pan and the cloth.
- Put the ham and spices in a food processor and blend briefly. While blending, pour in about three-quarters of the cooled butter and blend to a paste. Add the mace, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and black pepper. The spices should give a warm background flavour and not dominate the ham, so add gradually and taste. (For a more textured paste, blend half the ham in the processor and pull the rest into shreds with two forks, then mix it together.).
- Pack into 4 small ramekins, pots or glasses, then spoon over enough of the remaining butter to make a thin layer. Chill until the butter sets (about 30 minutes), then cover and chill for several hours. The flavour matures if this is made a day in advance. Keeps for up to 4 weeks in the cool place or fridge if the airtight butter layer has not been broken.