In a pickle: Mark Hix's easy-to-prepare potted and preserved New Year dishes

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Potted foods make a refreshing change from leftover turkey and are a perfect snacking food

It's the time of year when guests are likely to turn up unexpectedly, so it's always nice to have a few tasty things to hand. By now, you should have got through all your leftover bits and bobs from Christmas Day, and I find that pickled and potted foods make a refreshing change from leftover turkey, as well as being the perfect snacking food.

Jellied salt beef

Serves 8-10

700-800g salted ox cheek, brisket or silverside, soaked in cold water for about 10 hours
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
3 sticks of celery
10 black peppercorns

To set the beef

12g (4 sheets) of gelatine
2tbsp chopped parsley

Drain and rinse the salt beef and put it into a large saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 2 hours, until the beef is tender. Check to see if the water needs topping up. Cooking time will vary according to the cut and size of the meat. Remove from the liquid and leave to cool.

Remove about one-third of a litre of the cooking liquid to set the beef; discard the rest. Soak the gelatine leaves in a shallow bowl of cold water for a minute or so until soft. Squeeze out the water and add to the hot cooking liquor with the parsley, and stir until dissolved. Leave somewhere to cool but do not let it set.

Meanwhile, roughly shred the beef. Put the meat into either a suitable-sized terrine mould or a rectangular container. When the jelly is cool, pour it over the salt beef until just covered (you may have some extra left which you can discard) and give it a stir with a spoon.

Cover with clingfilm and leave to set in the fridge overnight. To serve, remove from the mould by spooning it onto serving plates or turn it out and slice it; serve with a good pickle or piccalilli.

Duck liver pâté

Serves 4-6

This is a quick spreadable pâté that can be knocked up in no time with either duck or chicken livers. It will keep well in the fridge for a few days and is one of those snacks that is hard to resist late at night.

250g duck livers, cleaned
150g butter
3 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml port
100ml red wine
100ml medium sherry

Season the livers, heat a couple of knobs of butter in a large frying pan and fry the livers for 3-4 minutes, turning them as they are cooking and keeping them pink. Transfer the livers to a plate, add another knob of butter to the pan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for a couple of minutes; then add the alcohol and simmer until it has reduced to about a tablespoon. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the butter. Mix with the livers and blend in a food processor until smooth. Season again if necessary and store in the fridge. If you want to serve for a dinner party, you can put the pâté in individual dishes and pour a little melted butter over the top.

Marinaded anchovies with parsley salad

Serves 8

Once again the anchovies are being landed down in Devon and Cornwall, which is fantastic news for our menus – hopefully the catch will also attract other species that would normally feed on them. Anchovies can be filleted by simply running your finger down the belly and pushing the fillets away from the bone – no knife needed. If you don't fancy this, you can get your fishmonger to do it for you instead. Rinse the fillets in cold water, remove any visible bones that may be left on and dry the fish on some kitchen paper.

You can keep these preserved in a kilner jar or vacuum-pack them.

30 or so fresh anchovies, filleted
A couple of handfuls of flat parsley leaves, washed and dried
3-4 medium-sized shallots, peeled
2tbsp capers
Some olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade

150ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1tbsp white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together. Lay the anchovies in a dish and pour the marinade over them. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

To serve, drain off a little of the marinade and mix with some olive oil to make enough dressing to toss into the parsley leaves. Put the parsley, shallots and capers into a bowl and mix with the dressing, then arrange on serving plates. Lay the anchovy fillets on top and serve.

Potted crab

Serves 4-6

If you buy a live crab and cook it yourself, or a freshly-cooked crab so that you can use the shells to make a bisque or a stock for a risotto, then this dish becomes part of a great-value meal. Weigh the meat once you have picked it and if you have more than the recipe, just bulk up the rest of the ingredients or make a delicious crab sandwich.

1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
3tbsp sherry
250g brown crab meat
80g butter, melted
The juice of half a lemon
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt
200g white crab meat
3tbsp mayonnaise

Simmer the shallots in the sherry until the sherry has evaporated, then mix in the brown crab meat, butter, lemon juice and spices, cook for 10 minutes then leave to cool. When cold, mix in the mayonnaise and white crab meat, season to taste and serve in pots with hot buttered toast.

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