Monday, 3 August 2009

On Potted Meat

Yesterday there was a lovely aroma penetrating our house all afternoon. It was the deliciously tasty aroma of meat cooking. Not only were we roasting a joint of lamb for supper (well, when I say “we” I mean the Wonderspouse – I don’t really cook), but the Anniversary Potted Meat was simmering away on the stove.

Today is our seventh Wedding Anniversary! Seven years ago about now, I was watching my newly-married Husband and my Mother throwing bits of salmon across the marquee so that the ever-social Ivory, who joined in happily with our wedding celebrations, could have a snack. I, meanwhile, kept sneaking off, borrowing my viola player’s instrument and joining in with the general chamber music going on in the corner. It was definitely a day to remember – and one day I’ll get round to writing a full blog post about it! For the time being, here is a picture of us with Ivory:
So, why do we have Anniversary Potted Meat? And more to the point, why do we always eat Potted Meat for BREAKFAST on our Wedding Anniversary?

Well, this most unusual tradition really started with a very usual tradition – the one that says that it’s bad luck for the groom and bride to meet on the morning of their wedding (or something like that). Our wedding was a sort of semi-traditional one and this was one of the traditions to which we stuck.

However, since neither of us had any beliefs that precluded it, and since we were way too broke to pay two lots of rent simultaneously, we had been living together for several months before our wedding since the leases on our previous flats had expired. And we rather liked it. In fact, we so liked waking up and having morning tea & coffee together that we really weren’t looking forward to the wedding morning terribly much. He would be in a budget hotel on the outskirts of Doncaster on his own and I would be dealing with hordes of relatives & bridesmaids, having spent the night on the sofabed in my Dad’s study.

So we decided to do something about it. If we couldn’t have breakfast together, we would at least have the same breakfast at the same time, and imagine we were together. After a fairly short discussion, we decided upon Potted Meat, partly because it’s absolutely delicious, but mainly because it was portable, kept well for a while out of the fridge, and was something a little bit different and special.

The Wonderspouse-to-be made one batch of Potted Meat, divided it into two, and we had a jar each. We also bought a few bread rolls and divided them into two batches, then set off for Doncaster (my hometown, where we got married). We then parted, having set a time for breakfast the next morning.

And the next morning, at the appointed hour, in the midst of bridesmaids, relatives and goodness-knows-what-else going on, I sat down with a slightly squashed bread roll and a jar of potted meat and proceeded to eat my last breakfast as a single girl. Delicious it was too, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Granted, two out of my six bridesmaids were vegetarian and couldn’t quite believe what I was up to. My Mum worried that eating such a breakfast on the morning of my wedding would “make me poorly”. But, oblivious to all of this, I sat, probably the calmest person in the room, eating my Potted Meat, knowing that the nearly-Wonderspouse would be doing the same.

Needless to say, it didn’t make me ill, and I was, in fact, grateful to have had a substantial breakfast, especially as we later had to stand and smile for photographs so had limited opportunity to get our hands on the nibbles our guests were enjoying.

So, every year, on our Wedding Anniversary, we have Potted Meat. He makes it, to the same, now traditional, recipe, and we eat it for breakfast. That is how we celebrate our Anniversary - no cards, no flowers, but, for us, the most romantic breakfast we could possibly imagine! Here is the recipe, in the Wonderspouse’s own words, followed by some pictures of this year’s batch in its various stages of preparation and eating!

In a saucepan, fry smoked bacon in duck fat until crispy, then add diced beef, crushed juniper berries and a bay leaf. Put the lid on the saucepan and leave for about two and a half hours, after which time the juices from the meat will have reabsorbed. At this stage, take out the bay leaves and crush the meat with a wooden spoon until the fibres pull apart. Add a small amount of high quality homemade stock every half hour for the next hour and a half, then leave for a final half hour until the filaments of meat are moist but not swimming in liquid. At this stage, transfer the contents to a jar and leave to cool.
Happy Anniversary Wonderspouse, and thank you for all the Potted Meat!!


  1. Wonderful post, how romantic! I love quirky little things like that!

  2. I have never had potted meat. Ever. I have always wondered what it was and did it only occur in Enid Blyton novels. That is a very sweet story by the way.

  3. I would send you some, Phillipa, but I don't think it travels quite that well :-)

  4. What a lovely tradition :) May you be eating potted meat for years and years and years to come!

  5. I agree, heres to many more jars of potted meat for Breakfast. Happy Anniversary x