Lately I have been going in a couple directions with this blog, many of them not involving meat. So I thought I would get back on track and do something that spotlights meat in all its glory. Due to the fact that I do a lot of at home butchery, wherein I buy large cuts of meat and trim them to my own purposes. I am often left with a lot of odd bits and ends in my freezer. I usually freeze any scraps or bones for making meat stocks when needed. Tonight I found my self with a substantial amount of really good veal and beef chunks which were just a little too irregular and grizzly to make a stew or something of that nature. I decided to keep with my late experiments in old timey meat preservation and do a good old fashioned potted meat. Here is the beautiful pile of flesh that I started with.
I began by throwing these into my trusty Le Creuset (I call her Lil' Red) with enough very salty water to cover. This comes to a simmer on the stove top.
After it is boiling you throw it into a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours. You are left with a somewhat unappetizing brew of greasy gray meat chunks. But not to worry, we shall improve on this shortly. Incidentally, while I had this in my oven today it spontaneously shut off, twice! I was unsettled and blamed the unholy agents of the netherworld. My wife thinks it was the cats.
I then threw all of the meat into a colander to rinse with cool water to get some of the meat scum off as well as to cool the meat down. Be sure to reserve the cooking liquid and throw this back in the pot and put on the stove to reduce. Then I played find the bones and grizzle in the meat pile for a few minutes and ended up with a nice amount of shredded beef and veal.
Into my trusty food processor went the meat along with two tablespoons of Colman's Mustard (an aggressive amount, more on that in a minute), butter (to make it more spreadable) a hefty amount of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and a dash of hot paprika for color.
Now a note on Colman's Mustard. It is an English type mustard that I find absolutely indispensable and it is my uncontested favorite condiment. It has a sinus clearing spice not unlike wasabi, and is an experience that everyone should enjoy once.
Process the meat mixture very well, adding a little of the cooking liquid if necessary, until it is a nice pate like consistency. Remove to a bowl and put aside.
By this time the meat's cooking liquid should have reduced considerably. You are shooting for about half a cup. I then filtered the liquid through some cheese cloth and was left with a nice amount of fatty meat liquid that if left alone would jelly up nicely in the fridge. You pour this over the meat mixture and chill thoroughly. Besides bringing some more fat into the mixture, this concentrated stock brings a nice meaty essence to the end product. The jelly/fat content is also crucial to the final texture. When nicely chilled transfer to whatever you want to store the stuff in. I chose a nice jar and a ramekin. The ramekin is nice for serving purposes.
The next step is the most fun. Melt enough butter to form a contiguous layer over the meat spread. When cooled and solid this forms a seal and will allow the potted meat to survive for about two weeks at low temperatures. Fat was the pasts answer for saran wrap and there are many classic dishes that use fat as a protective layer (duck confit for one). I like to serve this stuff with nothing more than a few good oat crackers.
Verdict: Now I know that you are thinking, "that is nasty, no way I am eating that crap." But really, think about the ingredients. The potted meat is comprised of very high quality beef and veal, along with mustard, salt, pepper, and spices. None of these are especially shocking or grotesque, I did not use lips and anuses here. I think you will be surprised by the quite normal taste of this. The meat flavor is really good and the texture is smooth and creamy. I especially enjoy the spice of the cayenne and English mustard. What you have here is really just a pate in its crudest and simplest form and I know many of you would be racing, crackers in hand if I had called this veal pate instead of potted meat. Give it a try if so inclined you will probably like it and it is a good look at how things were done in the past.