Rich and savoury Gentleman’s Relish is is a paste made from anchovies. It’s a great British spread to serve on toast or add into cooking recipes. A bit like Marmite, love it or hate it, this old fashioned relish is a classic.
What is Gentleman’s Relish
As I’ve said this is very much a British spread. It is also known as Patum Peperium and was first created in 1828 by an Englishman called John Osborn. He even won prizes at Parisian food shows for his spread and it was marketed for gentlemen of some standing.
It’s a spread made with anchovies, butter, herbs and spices. Actually, the company that makes this relish since 1971 (Elsenham Quality Foods) keeps the recipe a closely guarded secret.
The inspiration for this recipe
The other day I came across one of the little pots that Gentleman’s Relish traditionally comes in. My Mum used to give both my Dad and my husband a little tub of this tasty paste every year at Christmas. When you buy it in the fancy ceramic pots it’s a bit of a treat, something special.
Those little pots are collector’s items so it only seemed right to put some of my homemade Gentleman’s Relish into one of the pots that had been given to my Dad oh so many years ago. It brought back so many memories of Christmas in years gone by.
Ingredients for traditional Gentleman’s Relish
Anchovies are the star of the show here. I used two little cans of anchovies in oil. You could use the ones that come in a little jar as well of course. Don’t go for anything that has added flavours like chilli.
Butter is your binding agent here. It brings everything together and makes this spread rich and creamy. Actually, you could say that Gentleman’s Relish is really a sort of flavoured butter rather than a type of spread.
Those all-important spices. While the actual recipe is a secret we can take a pretty good guess at those spices; mace, cinnamon, white pepper and ginger.
The other ingredients I’ve used are capers and lemon just pack in even more flavour to this tasty spread.
Making your anchovy spread
Quite honestly this couldn’t be easier. You want to heat the spices first to really ramp up their flavours, this will take you less than a minute.
Then it’s all about melting butter and whizzing the other ingredients into a paste then mixing it all together.
See my recipe below for full instructions
I got two small 150ml jars of Gentleman’s Relish from this recipe.
If you want to make bigger quantities of the spread (it would make a great foodie gift for Christmas) just multiply the recipe to suit what you need.
You can use Cayenne Pepper instead of white pepper in the recipe. I like the taste of white pepper here as it is softer than cayenne but still packs a punch in the flavour department.
How long will this keep?
Homemade Gentleman’s Relish keeps well in the fridge for up to a month once opened and you can freeze it too for up to 3 months.
How to use this anchovy relish
Don’t just think of Gentleman’s Relish as something old guys in a posh club spread on their toast, far from it. While it does go extremely well spread thinly over unsalted butter on a nice slice of toast it can also be used in other ways.
You can add a little relish into scrambled eggs or even give a Bloody Mary an even bigger flavour hit than usual.
Or I’ll add a little with butter (even though there is already butter in there, you can never have too much butter!) on top of a really good steak and let those flavours seep into the meat.
Finally, serve it is lightly spread under the cheese on a really good toastie.
Think of this anchovy butter as an ingredient for making other dishes sing with flavour. Have you ever used anchovies in your cooking? Think of Spaghetti puttanesca, that rich and robust Italian dish of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, chilli and anchovies.
Although being a member of the fish family anchovies don’t actually taste fishy when you cook with them. They melt into your other ingredients and add depth and character to a dish without you even realising a fish had popped into the pan.
So you can use this Gentleman’s Relish in exactly the same way as you would for adding anchovies to your cooking.
I like to add some to minced (ground) beef in a cottage pie or lamb mince in a shepherd’s pie.
Add half a teaspoon of this Patum Peperium relish to salad dressings, especially if you’re making a Caesar salad. Or stir some into your gravy instead of using salt. Remember, anchovies are salty little creatures.
Looking for more spreads to make at home? Then check these out before you go;
- small pan, mini food processor
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
- 100 g anchovies drained
- 2 tsp capers drained
- 1 lemon (zest and juice)
- Heat the spices in a dry pan for about 1 minute then remove from heat and add the vegetable oil to bring the spices together as a little paste
- Add butter to the pan and let it melt into the spice paste and stir to combine
- blitz the anchovies and capers in mini food processor along with the lemon juice and zest and add mixture to the pan with butter and spices and mix thoroughly
- spoon into either one sterilised jar or two smaller jars
- Put the jars in the fridge to set up. There will be a coating of butter on top once it sets, use a small spoon to stir this back through the spread.
- This gentleman's relish will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months