Potted Winkles

Here are some recipes for your steamed winkles including my favourite, Potted Winkles.  As a guide to quantities, one large mug will contain about 95 winkles, which will weigh about 450g. Once these are cooked and de-shelled you’ll be left with about 80g of winkle meat.

Potted Winkles (Serves 4)

250g pack of unsalted butter
4 mugs of winkles (1.8kg in their shells or 320g of winkle meat)
1 bay leaf or a sprig of bog myrtle
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg/mace or powdered hogweed seed
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chopped water pepper if you can find it
juice ½ lemon (2 tablespoons) or crab apple verjus.

Purge and steam your winkles. Click here for how to cook them. Take them out of their shells and set them aside in a cool place.

Next, clarify the butter. Cut the whole bar of butter into small cubes, put them in a pan and melt them over a really gentle heat along with the bay leaf or bog myrtle. As the butter heats, the white butterfat collects as if scum on the top. Use a strainer spoon to gently lift off the butterfat putting it to one side, don’t chuck it as it’s really nice on toast.

Once the butterfat is off, add rest of spices and the lemon juice to the now clarified butter and switch off the heat but keep the pan over the hob to keep the butter liquid.

Working quite quickly, divide your winkles into four small ramekin dishes.  Take out the bay leaf/bog myrtle and pour the spiced liquid butter mixture over the winkles. Make sure the winkles are pushed below the surface. Leave them to set and once they are cool, cover them and chill in the fridge at least 2 hours before you plan to serve them.  They can be stored in the fridge but eat them with in three days.

Serve on a plate with seaweed oatcakes (link to recipe) or hot brown toast.

Garlic Winkles (Serves 4)

100g of unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced.
320g steamed and de-shelled winkles

Make a garlic butter by lightly frying the garlic in the butter.  Pour over steamed winkles. Serve with crusty bread.

Pepper Dulse and Winkle Goats Cheese (Serves 4)

1 handful of freshly picked pepper dulse or royal fernweed
2 small goats cheeses (100g each)
320g steamed and de-shelled winkles

This is best made on the same day that you pick the pepper dulse or the very next morning. Wash the pepper dulse well in cold fresh water, making sure there is no grit or sand left. Pat dry with a clean tea towel. Hold together in a clump on a chopping board and chop very finely.

Chop and crumble the goats cheese. Then add the finely chopped pepper dulse. Mix well then stir in the steamed winkles. Press into ramekins, chill for an hour or two and decorate with a sprig of pepper dulse.

Pepper dulse and winkle goats cheese

Remember winkles are shellfish so be cautious if you have an allergy.

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