Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

hough (also hoch, haugh) a term used mainly in the north of England and Scotland for that part of an animal which corresponds to the human ankle; i.e. the hock, or to another hind-leg joint of meat such as shin. Potted hough is a Scottish delicacy which remains highly popular. Dorothy Hartley (1954) quotes a recipe which was clearly given to her orally by a Scotswoman and has an arresting start and finish. ‘Take a hough and bash it well with an axe. No’ just break it, but have at it, till the pieces are no bigger than a wee hen’s egg.’ She then describes how the pieces are stewed for at least four hours with the brown papery skins of onions, peppercorns, and a blade of mace. The meat comes away from the bone, and the strained liquid is allowed to ‘gallop’ while the meat is picked off the broken bones and pressed into a basin which, when full, is topped up with the liquid. ‘It should set stiff. If it n’ sets stiff, you must reduce again for it should be as stiff as glue.’ The woman who provided the recipe is revealed as ‘the mother of four champion blacksmiths’, i.e. someone who knew about strengthening foods. If only for this reason it is worth recording her comments on the reception by her family of the dish.

All o’mine want no more than twa-three slices of potted hough, and a well of baked taties, and a fresh lettuce and mustard—maybe twa-three pickles would go wi’it well—and a tankard of ale—’twill fill them fine—’tis all guid meat.