English produce is coming to an end now, but the first of the stone fruits are arriving from South Africa, with some nice apricots around. A new season of lemons with leaf are coming from Italy and looking good. There are some nice Comice pears from France, as well as franco salad from France, a yellow leaf which is almost like a flower.
Crosnes are also coming from France, while there are white aubergines from Holland and nice purple cauliflowers around. English cèpes are ropey this year but there are still good quality European and Spanish cèpes available for just under £30 per kg.
Source: Fresh Direct - 01869 365600 - www.freshdirect.co.uk
Nothing is of particularly bad quality at the moment, so why not consider some more sustainable fish this winter, all being landed in good numbers. Cuttlefish are around at £4.50 per kg, codling, ling and herring at the same price and dabs at £3.50.
There are also nice landings of gurnard - which is probably due some media attention as Tom Aikens lines up his new fish and chip restaurant with the fish prominent on the menu - and good pollack, skate, line-caught bass and large black bream, selling at £8.50 per kg for line-caught or £1 cheaper netted.
Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk
Lamb remains the best buy since the market steadied itself in the past few weeks. Round joints, fillets and strip loins are all firmer in price now, both on the import and export front. Turkey will be a problem this year, with imported boneless joints up to £5.50 per kg and English equivalents at £1 more. One idea might be to buy the meat now and freeze it until needed.
On the game front, the first woodcock are arriving, and the next full moon should see numbers increase. There are plenty of pheasant and French partridge now, but a shortage of English at present. Pigeon is slightly scarcer this year as people are shooting other birds.
Meat source: Birtwistle Butchers - 0161-728 3340 - www.birtwistlebutchers.co.uk
Game source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk
Fresh cèpes with chilli, tomato and soft polenta
Ingredients (Serves 4)
For the polenta
200g good mazie polenta
Salt and Pepper
For the Cèpe Stew
30g red onion, finely sliced
5g red chilli, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
10 small sprigs of thyme, picked
9tbs good olive oil
200g cèpes, cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch slices
15g dry cèpes, soaked in a 100ml of warm water
500g of tomato passata
20g flat parsley, chopped
30g shaved Parmesan
Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and add a teaspoonful of salt, turn the heat down and pour in the polenta flour. Whisk until completely smooth. Let the polenta cook gently on a low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finish off by stirring in half the butter and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Softly sweat the onions, chilli, garlic and thyme in seven teaspoonfuls of good olive oil. After 8 minutes add the fresh cèpes and cook for three to four minutes. Now add the cèpes stock and reduce the liquor down until almost evaporated. Add the tomato passata and half the chopped parsley, stir into the mix and season. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Remove lid and check the seasoning. Divide the polenta between four plates, spoon the cèpes onto the plates and finish with the rest of the chopped parsley, shaved Parmesan and Olive oil.
Andrew Parkinson, executive chef from Fifteen London.