Seasonal and close to home, gorgeous-looking Russet apples from Maidstone are challenging other eaters, including good English Coxes and Royal Gala. Among the cookers, Howgate Wonder is a good option instead of Bramley. A cross between a Blenheim Orange and Newton Wonder, it’s larger, but lighter and has a much fluffier texture. They will be around for about three weeks.
Swedes are among a splendid range of roots, alongside turnips, parsnips, celeriac, chervil roots, parsley roots, golden beetroot, candy beetroot and Jerusalem artichokes. Shetland Black potatoes are among the excellent and eclectic crop grown by Lucy Carroll in Northumberland – worth exploring for those winter dishes. Autumn truffles are available for about £350-£400 per kg, while white truffles have gone crazy, soaring up to £4,000 per kg. There is also an abundance of squashes available in the lead-up to Hallowe’en.
Bad weather has seen patchy landings this past week and, as a result, pollack is hard to find, as is English line-caught mackerel and sea bass. On the plus side, the first Cornish herrings have arrived, alongside sardines, and both are in great condition. Good brill is around, and Dover sole prices are down to about £15.50 per kg.
Top-end restaurants are snapping up the Northern Irish pike on the market at present, so act quickly to get it on your menu. There are sensible prices attached to skate wings from north Devon, and there are excellent large plaice around. Now is a great time for crab, with plenty of good-quality meaty specimens around. Lobster prices are creeping up, but there are still lots on the market.
Source: Chef Direct – 01275 474707
Pheasants are now in good shape and will be on the market until January. The price at present stands at about £5.50 a brace. English partridge are still available in good numbers, but ducks are scarce to come by. Hares are increasing in number, and venison is in excellent condition – a must for all menus.
Source: Chef Direct – 01275 474707
Roast pheasant, Koffmann cabbage and pomegranate sauce
For the pheasant
2 pheasants, wishbone and legs removed
80ml rapeseed oil
For the Koffmann cabbage
200g Savoy cabbage
15g goose fat
100ml double cream
For the pomegranate sauce
4 pheasant legs
40ml rapeseed oil
1/4 litre chicken stock
4tbs cooked polenta
For the pheasant, preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the pheasants, then heat the rapeseed oil in a frying pan and brown the breasts, for about five minutes on each side. Place the birds in the oven for 10 minutes and rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.
For the cabbage, cut the carrots and celeriac into small batons of equal size. Cut the pancetta into lardons. Cut the cabbage into 1in squares, without vein. In a good heavy-bottomed pan, heat the goose fat with the pancetta. When it is nicely coloured add the carrots and celeriac and season. After one minute add the cabbage. Cook until cabbage is soft. Drain in a colander, put back in the pan, add the cream, mix for 20 seconds, check seasoning and remove.
Prepare the sauce in advance and reserve: remove the meat from the pheasant legs and chop into small pieces. Dice the shallots, carrot and celeriac. Fry the leg meat in a pan with a little rapeseed oil, add the shallots, celeriac and carrots and caramelise. Scoop out a spoonful of pomegranate seeds and reserve.
Pour the hot chicken stock over the vegetables. Add half the pomegranate seeds and juice and grenadine. Reduce by half and pass through sieve. Add the rest of the seeds, infuse for 30 minutes and strain again. Taste the sauce. Reduce slightly until it is a good consistency. Cover and leave on side of stove.
To serve, pile the cabbage at back of plate, put a spoon of polenta in front of plate. Take the breast off the bone, slice and arrange on the polenta. Add the reserved pomegranate seeds to the sauce and pour over the pheasant.
Tim Payne, head chef, Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green, London
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