Potted Hough

This sounds like a drunken street walker but actually is a traditional Scottish comfort food. The other day I found a site that listed traditional foods made this time of year and thought as I needed to make my weekly menu, I would try a few and see how they turned out. As it turns out, this is a period recipe so so much the better.

I had a 2 lb worth of beef shanks, bone in (marrow rich I might add) and planned to make a nice beef and barley soup. The recipe for potted hough  called for beef shank so I killed two birds with one stone.

Potting is the process of setting chopped meat in a liquid that is either made from butter or, if it’s a piece of meat from the gelatine in the meat (which is why shin is a popular cut for potting). Indeed, ‘hough’ is the Scottish name for a shin of beef and this is a very traditional dish going back to the 18th century. Typically it’s used as a sandwich filling for picnics or is served on toast at supper time. http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-poted-hough

The recipe for Potted Hough is as follows:

One piece of meaty shin bone, ie the beef hough that you should ask the butcher to crack.
One bay leaf, a wee pinch of cayenne,  spice ( 1/2 tsp whole mace, 1/2 tsp peppercorns , 1/2 tsp allspice berries tied in a cheesecloth bag) and salt.

There is a potted hough recipe in the National Trust for Scotland book, The Scottish Kitchen, by Christopher Trotter which uses a whole leek, carrot and stalk of celery. I added the carrot, celery and shallots to the broth instead of leek as I didn’t have any and wanted to have a nice broth.


Place the ingredients into a large pan and cover with cold  water.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for about four to six hours.

Sieve the liquid into a separate pan and keep the bone, meat and gelatin in the original pan. Set aside to cool down and then skim off the fat from the surface.

Mince, shred or chop the mixture as finely as possible then return to the drained liquid, ie the stock. Some chefs like to add more seasoning of salt and pepper at this stage of cooking potted hough. Boil for a further quarter of an hour.

Place into each mould and place in the fridge to chill.

What I did was to follow these directions to a point where I took out the meat. I simmered the heck out of this meat all day long and it was as tender as a baby’s bottom. I let it cool and degreased  the broth. I put half  the meat in the food processor and whizzed the heck out of it to make almost a paste. (The rest I shredded to make my soup). Then I put it in a pot with some of the hot broth and a little bit of dissolved Knox gelatine (about 3/4 oz. to make up for any difference in natural bone gelatine), finished the recipe , spooned it in glass custard cups and set it in the fridge.


The potted hough set up nicely  and I sliced one to make a sandwich with a little mustard . It tastes like- well- potted meat. I would suspect though that this would be a lot healthier because the fat is limited and there’s no chicken lips or other mystery meats in it like the commercial stuff one buys.