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Potted calf’s liver

The basis for this recipe is a preparation from Florence White’s Good English Food (Oxford 1952), a considerably more obscure publication than her earlier Good Things in England. It seems like an obvious idea given the use of purees and mousses of liver common to other cultures, but this is the only recipe we have found for a British potted calf’s liver. Miss White does not provide much guidance or any proportions, so we have added some ingredients and supplied approximate proportions that you can vary to taste. Frying the liver just as you would for a main course gives the pot extra depth of flavor and the opportunity to tweak the dish. We like calf’s liver cooked just to pink but you can fry it longer.



- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ lb calf’s liver
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 1 oz ham, coarsely chopped
- about 1 oz salt pork (not too fatty) or pancetta, coarsely chopped
- mace to taste
- dry mustard to taste
- cayenne to taste
- a little Worcestershire
- melted clarified butter or ghee

  1. As you can see, we generally use proportions of eight parts liver to each part of ham and each part of salt pork or pancetta.
  2. Melt the butter on medium high to high heat until it is foamy.
  3. Season the liver and fry it until done to your taste: Cut into it to check for ‘doneness’. It will do no harm because you will chop the liver anyway.
  4. Cut up the liver and put it in a food processor with all the pan juices and other ingredients.
  5. Process the mixture until you have a smooth paste, check the seasoning and spoon into pots or a terrine.
  6. Top each pot with a thin layer of melted butter and chill.


- You may want to add a little more butter to the food processor depending on the texture of the mixture.

- As Miss White notes, and despite the price of calf’s liver, this pot is a superb and economical alternative to foie gras, an added bonus for opponents of force feeding ducks and geese.

- You can forego the traditional topping of melted clarified butter: The pot will keep covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a while, but as noted elsewhere, the little crust of sweet butter is an appealing indulgence.

- You, obviously, can substitute any other kind of liver--but calf’s liver is best.

- If you dislike the idea of uncooked cured meats like salt pork or pancetta, substitute butter or cooked goose (or duck) fat. The flavor will not be the same but it will still taste good.

- Do not omit the ham: It rounds out the sharper flavor of the liver.

- Miss White did not include the mustard or Worcestershire.