In the good old, bad old days, making potted ham was a way of conserving food to keep it from going off before it could be eaten. Modern refrigerators and freezers mean we don’t have the same problem, but if you have any leftover ham after Thanksgiving, Christmas or a.n.other holiday, this is a delicious way of using it up.
You can use my recipe for potted ham as a guideline – change the spices to suit your tastes, add herbs, or as a recent visitor to my cookery school suggested, some cranberries. I like mine with crusty bread, toasted, pickles and perhaps a bowl of soup.
This recipe will fill four big ramekins or six to eight smaller ones. They will keep in the fridge, once sealed with clarified butter, for three or four days or in the freezer, well-wrapped, for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using.
PS: for anyone local to me in Suffolk who is starting from scratch rather than using leftovers, I used smoked ham hocks from the helpful people at Smith’s butchers in Needham Market. They cook them in-house and it’s advisable to call in advance to check they have some. No axe to grind here, this is a public service announcement.
500g ham, weighed once trimmed of fat and bone
250g unsalted butter
Approx 1 tsp ground mace (or to taste)
Small pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt, a grind of black pepper
Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan and leave it to settle. Slowly pour the clear yellow fat into a bowl or jug, discarding the milky residue.
Using two forks, pull apart the ham into long shreds, discarding any gristle. Place in a bowl and pour over two-thirds of the clarified butter. Mix through the spices and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pack the meat into four large ramekins or six to eight smaller ones. Place a small fresh bay leaf on top of each one then pour over the remainder of the clarified butter to seal. Chill until the butter is solid then wrap in cling film.