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What’s in season: November

What’s in season: November

As the end of the year hurtles towards us, fresh produce supplier James Wellock takes a look at the ingredients destined for our plates in November, while chef Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, owner of the British Larder in Bromeswell, Suffolk, cooks up some seasonal treats

Heirloom produce is fighting back and the extra choices it gives us are enough to set any menu up to match the pyrotechnics of Bonfire Night.

In many ways, we are moving full circle as the breeding programmes, which created modern hybrids that looked good and yielded larger crops but had little taste and nutritional value, have been found out. But as chefs increasingly look for flavour as a prerequisite, the old varieties have slowly come back and the old ways of locally grown, heirloom vegetables, which are tender, sweet, juicy and simply delicious, have now side-stepped their tougher
brothers. When you look at the amount and types of vitamins in them, you can see why they are full of goodness as well as flavour.

Hand in glove, as they say. There will be many fabulous colours coming from a wide range of produce in November. The choices are endless and,
particularly during this month, the majority of the produce is local and therefore very good value for money.

Simple ingredients, but with a bit of a twist, seem to be in vogue. There’s something like 20 options of carrots, for example, offering a blaze of colour with bright orange, white, yellow and purple varieties; not only in standard size but also as a micro seedling, various stages of baby, bunched with the leaf still on, and right through to donkey size.

Rainbow chard in its heritage state is known as five colour silverbeet. It has been maintained as an Australian heirloom and has made a massive comeback in this country. It’s vibrant, coloured from white, yellow, orange, pink through to bright reds, with a mildly flavoured stem and tasty leaves, making it a good option as a vegetable or in a winter salad.

There’s a similar message with beetroots, where the standard red has been joined by golden, choggia or candy (which has amazing red and white circles through it), white Detroit and crapaudine, which is the most exciting one for me, with its cone shape and sweet taste.

Red meat radish, historically from China, is another vegetable which is becoming a firm favourite. It can grow as large as a cricket ball and, being part of the horseradish family, does pack a peppery flavour. It just looks amazing and, as its name implies, when you cut into the white outer skin with its green shoulder, you get flesh that looks like raw meat or a mini watermelon. As well as being flavoursome, it is high in ascorbic and folic acid, potassium, calcium, magnesium and copper.

Violetta and Romanesque cauliflowers certainly provide an alternative to your Sunday roast of cauliflower cheese. The purple is bright, while the shape of the green Romanesque is pretty, and with high dietary fibre and vitamin C, is another winner for your diners.

Tender sprouting broccolis – both the White Star and Purple – are taking over from the standard massively woody broccoli. The White is the sweetest and most tender of the two, but both look pretty on the plate and, with no waste or prep to do, they are well worth the money as well as being high in vitamin C, K, B6 and B9.

We certainly are not lost on the potato front for heritage varieties either. Purple Majesty is purple not only on the skin, but also inside, while Red King Edward 1916 is a rare version of the King Edward with a creamy texture and great flavour.

It would be appropriate to finish on tomatoes, which I think started the heritage renaissance. There’s a plentiful supply of lots of varieties and now they are available all year round, growers are thinking outside the box in a positive way.

The heirloom scene is based on seeds being passed on from generation to generation because they were the best – why should we move away from generations of success, thinking we know better? Thankfully, we are seeing the light.

Pheasant cannelloni

Serves 8

For the pheasant cannelloni

275g ‘00’ pasta flour
1tbs olive oil
Pinch of table salt
2 whole large free-range eggs
3 large free-range egg yolks plus 1 yolk for the glaze
4 pheasant legs
2 sprigs of thyme
1tsp duck fat
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 banana shallots, finely diced
80g celery, finely diced
50g trompette mushrooms
50ml pheasant stock
1tbs chopped mixed herbs
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
50g grated Parmesan cheese

For the celeriac fondant and purée
1 head of celeriac
100g plus 20g unsalted butter
100ml plus 50ml pheasant or white chicken stock
75ml double cream
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the garnish
25g pickled trompette mushrooms (see pork-crumbed mushrooms recipe below)
24 button onions, peeled and cooked until al dente
24 sage leaves, deep-fried

Prepare the pasta. In a food processor, pulse-blend the flour, oil and salt, then add the eggs one at a time. Blend until the pasta dough comes together, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead for five minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Wrap tightly in cling film and refrigerate for one hour before using. Prepare the pheasant filling. Roast the seasoned pheasant legs in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes, and leave to cool.

Remove the skin and flake the meat, removing any shot and small bones. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat with the duck fat. Sauté the shallots, celery and mushrooms with seasoning for six minutes until tender, add the pheasant stock and bring to the boil. Cook for one minute and remove from the heat. Add the flaked, cooked pheasant leg meat and herbs and taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

For the celeriac fondant and purée, peel and cut eight batons of celeriac 8cm to 10cm long and 1.5cm thick. Roughly dice the rest of the celeriac for the purée. To cook the fondant, place the celeriac batons, 100g unsalted butter, 50ml pheasant stock and seasoning in a small frying pan, cover with butter
paper and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning the batons over occasionally until the celeriac is cooked and glazed.

For the purée, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat with 20g butter and sweat the diced celeriac with seasoning. Cover the pan with a lid, cook for about eight minutes and stir occasionally. Add 100ml pheasant stock, then cover the pan with a lid again and cook for a further 10 minutes until the celeriac is soft.

Remove the lid, increase the heat and add the cream; boil for two minutes then blend until smooth. Sieve the purée and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Roll the pasta out using a pasta machine until 2mm thick and then cut the pasta into 10cm by 12cm oblongs. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for four minutes, drain, and lay the oblongs out on a lightly greased tray. Spoon tablespoons full of the filling in the centre of each and roll up each cannelloni oblong. Place them on a lined baking tray, brush with egg yolk glaze and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake the cannelloni in a preheated oven at 180°C for five minutes. Reheat the pickled mushrooms and the cooked button onions. To serve, spoon a tablespoon of heated celeriac purée onto a warm plate, place the cannelloni on the purée, place a drained, warmed celeriac fondant piece next to the cannelloni, and arrange the warm button onions, pickled trompette mushrooms and sage.

Dust over the remaining grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

By Madalene Bonvini-Hamel

Pork-crumbed mushrooms, potato garlic cream

Serves 4

For the pickled button onions and trompette mushrooms
100g caster sugar
100ml white wine vinegar
10 coriander seeds
5 cloves
1 star anise
1 garlic clove, crushed
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
200g button onions, peeled
50g trompette mushrooms
1tsp olive oil

For the parsley vinaigrette
100g flat leaf parsley
1tsp Dijon mustard
100ml rapeseed oil
2tbs water
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the potato garlic cream
200g potato peeled and cut into 1cm dice
30g garlic, peeled and sliced
300ml vegetable or white chicken stock
50g unsalted butter
200ml double cream
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the mushrooms
12 small button mushrooms
50g dehydrated pork skin crumbs (Airbag Farina)
1 large free range egg yolk
25g plain flour
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

First prepare the pickling liquid for the pickled onions and mushrooms. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a medium saucepan over a low heat, add the aromatics and season with salt and pepper. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and simmer for three minutes.

Leave to cool at room temperature. Cook the onions in salted boiling water for five to six minutes. Test if cooked with a sharp paring knife – if the knife inserts with ease, then the onions are ready. Drain and immediately place in two-thirds of the pickling liquid. Leave for minimum of 30 minutes before using – you could make this in advance and keep chilled.

For the pickled trompette mushrooms, place a small frying pan over high heat with the oil, sauté the mushrooms with seasoning for one or two minutes, drain and then add to the remaining pickling liquid and set aside. The mushrooms are ready immediately or could be done in advance and kept refrigerated.

For the parsley vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

Season to taste, transfer to a squeeze bottle and keep chilled until needed.

Now prepare the potato garlic cream. In a medium saucepan over a medium heat bring the garlic, potatoes, butter and stock with seasoning to a gentle simmer; keep the pan covered with a lid and stir occasionally. Once the potatoes are very soft, remove the lid, add the cream and bring it to the boil. Simmer for one minute and then blend until smooth. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and pour into a cream whipper. Secure the lid and charge with two gas pellets; keep warm.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the pork-crumbed mushrooms. Season the plain flour and place in a medium container. Whisk the egg with seasoning and place in another container. Place the pork crumb in a third container.

First coat the button mushrooms in the flour, then in the egg and lastly in the pork crumb. Heat a fat fryer with oil to 160°C and fry the mushrooms in batches for four to five minutes or until they’re crispy and golden brown. Drain the mushrooms on kitchen paper and season lightly with salt.

To serve, make a cordon of the parsleyvinaigrette on each serving plate. Place three mushrooms per portion on each plate on the parsley, and do the same with drained pickled mushrooms and trompette mushrooms. Shake the cream whipper with the warm potato garlic cream, dispense the sauce in the centre of the plate and serve.

By Madalene Bonvini-Hamel


 

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