Potted Beef

Sophie Grigson slow cooks beef to melting tenderness and pots it for a perfect toast topping or fabulous sandwich filler
By Sophie Grigson
Potted Beef
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time: (or overnight)
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 450 g stewing beef steaks, (e.g. chuck steak)
  • 1 tbsp anchovy essence
  • 0.25 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 0.25 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 110 g unsalted butter, sliced
  • 1 pinches salt

Tips and Suggestions

Potted beef is the venerable antecedent of those horrible little jars of meat paste that ruined so many sandwiches. They taste nothing like the real thing, which is so infinitely superior that it is hard to believe they are related. This particular version (one of the finest I've tasted), was given to me by Anne Petch of Heal Farm in Devon. I serve it as a first course, with hot toast and pickled walnuts, or a smear of creamed horseradish.


1. Set the oven to 140°C/gas 1. Trim the meat, removing all sinews, and cut into chunks. Place in an ovenproof dish with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Sprinkle over the pepper and nutmeg, then drizzle over the anchovy essence. Lastly, lay the butter over the top. Cover tightly and cook for at least 5 hours, until the meat is extremely tender (you can put it into the oven a hour or two before you go to bed, then retrieve it when you rise in the morning).

3. Once it has been in the oven for a couple of hours (or just before you hit the sack), give it a stir, then cover again and leave it be in the oven. Once it is cooked, cool slightly, then place in a food processor and blitz until smooth, pale and light. Taste and add salt only if necessary (the anchovy paste will probably have provided quite enough).

4. Pack into pots, cover with cling film, and stash in the fridge to solidify. The potted beef will keep like this for a day or two in the fridge, but if you wish to keep it longer, for up to a week, seal the pots with clarified butter.

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