Take one Guardian Weekend magazine and one quandary about what to feed Archaeologist T. Realise that multiple small dishes that can be dipped into at a fixed pace are just the thing. Go to the market and buy fish. The market being a fish stall on Roman Road just round the corner, these fish were Mega Mackerel having been fished in Scotland and being of far greater stature than any mackerel we had seen before. And such nice stripes too.

Potted mackerel

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Skill level: easy


  • 3 fresh mackerel
  • oil
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 150g butter
  • 1 lemon – juiced
  • s & p

First, place the mackerel in an oiled tin with some bay leaves, crushed garlic (three of the cloves) and seasoning, and bake at 180C/gas mark 4 for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, flake the fish into a bowl, making sure to check for bones – they can be small so it’s a fiddly business.

Potted mackerel

Next add the mace, parsley and thyme to the fish.

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then add one finely chopped garlic clove and half a teaspoon of cayenne to the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes to infuse the flavours then remove from heat and let the butter settle – it will separate so the clear stuff is at the top.

Potted mackerel

Pour two-thirds of the clear butter over the fish mixture, add the lemon juice and seasoning then give it a good stir to get an even coating on the fish.

Potted mackerel

Finally pack the fish into ramekins or into a Kilner jar, depending on how quickly you plan to use it and seal the jar or ramekins with the rest of the clarifed butter (you can chuck out the white solids). Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate. The ramekins should be used in a couple of days, the Kilner jar will last up to a week.

Verdict: Gosh, this is lovely. I think the spicy clarified butter that runs through it gives it a special twist.

Drink: Vodka and tonic and cassis, or wine.

Entertainment: Tales of Cricklade from a newly recovered Archaeologist T. Don’t mention the beef.

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