The Larder: Potted Stilton

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Stilton Cheese judgement at the Dairy Show. Olympia, London, October 1951 (Photo by Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images)

Not unlike one’s attitude to weird-looking cousins and gimlet-eyed in-laws, welcoming one of these things into the house for Christmas is one thing. Finding that it’s still with you mid-January is quite another.

That moon-like, blue-veined visage and pockmarked skin. That aura of stubborn immortality and the pungent aura of soured goodwill. That implacable presence that follows you around the house, seeping into the very fabric, insinuating itself into every cubic centimetre of atmosphere. Sitting there; silently judging you. A living, seething mass of resentment that craves attention whilst it positively begs to be ignored.

We refer, of course, to the Stilton.

By now it will have seen its best days. It will be lying under a sheet of foil like a corpse upon the coroner’s slab, its remains looking ‘not so much like the ruin of its youth, but the ruins of those ruins’.

There is, however, no need to call for the undertaker, pest controller or exorcist just yet. This cheese, though ripe, is not ripe for the bin; its youth can be restored, its flavour preserved. This cheese can be redeemed.

Because potted Stilton is very much ‘a thing’. A very fine thing, too.

Simply blend together 2 parts cheese to one part softened butter in a bowl, along with a splash of sherry and, if the jar is within reach, a pinch or two of ground mace. Pop the results into jam jars or ramekins, pour over a little melted butter to form a thin seal, and pop it all in the fridge. Some people sprinkle a few walnuts across the surface before the seal sets whilst others favour a few pickled green peppercorns. Others do neither.

Then, at any point over the next couple of months, when wondering idly of a Saturday morning what to have for lunch, toss a slice of bread in the toaster, go bobbing for a couple of pickled onions, slosh an inch or two of red (or whatever’s left in the bottle) into a glass, and get ruminating.