English produce is starting to dry up, with plums now finished. Bramley apples are coming through now - but from October all apples will be in storage. English raspberries, grown under glass, are in good, plump condition. There will still be English broad beans and runner beans for another three or four weeks but peas are starting to look a bit shabby. Finally on the English produce front, the first of the Hallowe'en pumpkins are starting to arrive. A lot is currently arriving from Italy: Italian dark aubergines are in good condition, as are Italian rock melon.
Source: Fresh Direct - 01869 365600 - www.freshdirect.co.uk
The last week has seen good landings of all species, including wild black bream from Devon, line-caught pollack, plenty of line-caught bass on the South Coast and the first jigged squid over the weekend in Cornwall. Bad weather in Scotland has hit supplies of langoustine and scallops, while fresh sand eels from south Devon are making a substitute for whitebait. All shellfish, crabs and lobsters are readily available.
Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk
The market seized up last week after the second foot and mouth outbreak, with limited (and very expensive) availability. It remains to be seen what will happen this week. Farmers can now send livestock direct from farm to an approved abattoir under veterinary control, so we shall see by the end of the week what the affect on prices will be. So long as foot and mouth is contained, our suppliers' gut instinct is that prices won't be shooting upwards.
After recommending venison last week as an alternative to beef, it appears we are eating our words. Supplies of the meat will be seriously affected by the foot and mouth outbreak, with a ban on shooting and moving over the next three weeks. Excellent supplies of good-quality young grouse are available because of the warm April weather and wet summer. French partridge are in good supply but English partridge remains scarce and expensive. Mallard, teal and widgeon are available in fair numbers and hare, wild rabbit and pigeon are in good supply.
Risotto with grouse, mixed mushrooms, red wine sauce and mint
Ingredients (Serves four)
Vegetable oil (to cover grouse legs)
3 garlic cloves
Thyme (small handful)
For the mixed mushrooms 200g mixed mushrooms (girolle, chanterelle, trompette de la mort)
40-50ml olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
Pinch chopped parsley
For the red wine sauce
1 litre red wine (Barolo)
4 sliced shallots
40g butter to finish the sauce
For the risotto
1tbs finely diced onion
280g carnaroli rice
200ml red wine
1.5 litres light chicken stock
50g acid butter (reduction of 1 onion, 1 glass white wine, 1 glass white wine vinegar: montée with 250g of butter)
5 leaves mint, julienned
Remove the legs and breast from the grouse and place the legs in a saucepan. Cover with vegetable oil. Add salt, thyme and three garlic cloves, and simmer for about one hour. When the legs are tender remove the meat from the bone and put to one side.
Clean the mushrooms, slice and sauté them in olive oil with the chopped garlic and parsley. Season.
Place the red wine, port and shallots in saucepan and reduce to a concentrated glaze. Season.
Pan-fry the grouse breast in oil, season and set aside to rest.
Sweat the onions in a little oil, then add the rice. Once heated through, add the red wine and allow to evaporate. At this point we set a timer for 13 minutes, and keep adding the chicken stock. At the four-minute mark, we add the mixed mushrooms and the grouse leg meat. Once the risotto is cooked, remove it from the heat. Add the butter, acid butter, Parmesan and the mint. In the meantime, reheat and then slice the grouse breast ready to serve.
To serve, montée the red wine sauce with a bit of butter. Check the risotto seasoning and then pour on to a flat plate. Place the sliced grouse breast on top and finish off with a drizzle of the red wine sauce.
Marco Torri, head chef, Ristorante Semplice, Mayfair, London