Rather than slaving in the kitchen on Christmas day, make Mike Robinson's potted spiced meat ahead of time as a starter


Potted spiced meat is a great starter to make ahead of time for Christmas day. Rather than missing the festivities slaving in the kitchen, entertain your guests and still enjoy a delicious starter. Potted spiced meat will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Or, make use of your leftovers and keep it for snacking. It’s delicious spread on hot toast.

For a festive sweet treat, try The Field’s biscotti with almonds and orange. Or bring some merriment to your gathering with our homemade Christmas Pimm’s.


After those sweetmeats, I think a little meat is in order. Potting meat is a thoroughly British concept that dates back to the Middle Ages and is really easy to do. I am using venison but beef and pork work just as well. It has the advantage of keeping outside the fridge, as long as the butter seal is not broken, and it uses cheap cuts, too.

Serves 10

  • 100g (4oz) smoked bacon
  • 1 block butter plus some for sealing
  • 1 kg (2 1⁄5lb) shin of venison
  • 1 clove
  • 1 star-anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 bottle red wine

Start by cutting the rind off the bacon and tying it up with string (so it’s easy to remove later). Cut the butter into chunks and put all the ingredients in a casserole, making sure that the wine covers everything. Pop the lid on and braise for four hours at 120°C/ 250°F/Gas Mark 1⁄2.

Remove from the oven, take out the rind, clove, star-anise, cinnamon and chilli, and spoon the meat into a food processor. Whizz, adding the liquor until the consistency is fine and moist. Pack the hot meat into sterilised jars and pour melted butter over the top to make an airtight seal. Potted spiced meat will keep for ages in the larder, but I advise you to store it in the fridge, just in case.