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Brussels sprouts,Lamb,Red mullet

22 February 2007
Brussels sprouts,Lamb,Red mullet

Fresh produce

English forced rhubarb is now in season or, for a luxury item also from these shores, try Scottish sea kale. Jerusalem artichokes are still around, as are the last of the Brussels sprouts and tops, while January King cabbages and curly kale are plentiful. Strawberries, from Israel and Egypt, are pricey and not very good at present. Australian apricots and South African peaches are similarly expensive, and South American cherries are all but finished.

Source: Fresh Direct 01869 365600 www.freshdirect.co.uk

Meat

The first of the new-season lamb is starting to arrive, along with Pyrenean lamb, which is popular in Britain as it is a tenderer meat than a lot of home-grown options. Pork supplies are good, and beef remains steady. The discovery of bird flu in Suffolk has caused a 10% dip in supermarket sales of turkey and chicken, but demand for poultry in the industry has not dipped. There is still plenty of good wood pigeon and wild rabbit around, and venison is still available, but demand is slowing down, so prices are falling too. Suckling pigs are still very easy to get hold of, as is wild boar (left) and offal, particularly lamb's tongue and sweetbreads.

Source: Chef Direct 01275 474707 www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Fish

Poor catches at the end of last week and an average start to this week means some fish is in short supply, particularly day-boat fish such as John Dory and red mullet. Wild bass prices have gone through the roof, so it is best avoided at the moment. To compensate, there are good landings of black bream from the Channel Islands, while Dover sole and squid supplies remain steady. The first mackerel (right) from Spain are arriving, but February is a hard time to source the fish, not helped by Scottish fisheries saving their remaining quota for later in the year. Lobster prices are easing after Valentine's Day, but it won't be until May that they'll be fully in season and come down in price.

Source: Chef Direct 01275 474707 www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Seasonal recipeBoiled leg of lamb with caper sauce

Ingredients (Serves 12)

2-3kg leg of lamb
2 carrots
2 onions
Bouquet garni (3 stalks parsley, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf)
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
40g butter
40g plain flour
300ml milk
300ml stock (from the lamb water)
4tbs capers

Method

Season a trimmed leg of lamb, wrap in a buttered muslin cloth and tie with string. Put in a pot of boiling salted water, together with two carrots cut into quarters, two onions (one studded with cloves), a bouquet garni and a garlic clove. Simmer gently for 30 minutes per kg or until tender and cooked right through. Drain, unwrap and let rest.

Mix together the butter, flour, milk and stock and cook out for 30 minutes. Stir in capers and season to taste.

This dish can be accompanied with purée of turnips or celeriac cooked with the lamb leg, potatoes or white haricot beans.

Eric Guy, Head Chef, the Bear of Rodborough hotel, Stroud, Gloucestershire

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