Chestnut, Partridge, Monkfish

23 October 2008 by
Chestnut, Partridge, Monkfish

Fresh produce

Two money savers are among the best in-season veg.

Curly kale is excellent at the moment, while oh-so-traditionally English Brussels tops - almost killed by supermarkets, which begrudged the shelf space they used - are roaring back into fashion.

Tight-headed English broccoli and cauliflowers are excellent and should be available through to November, with purple sprouting broccoli offering colour. Leeks, however, are already coming from Belgium.

Among roots, only swedes are late in bulking up. Everything from celeriac through to the now-less-expensive Jerusalem artichokes, including turnips, parsnips and all carrots, are begging to be used.

As you'd expect at this time of year, pumpkins are cheap as chips and in great shape.

Although English apples are now at their most abundant, especially Gala and Coxes, it's English Conference pears that win on aesthetic grounds, and are one-third less expensive than the dowdy Belgian versions.

On the wild front, British chestnuts are smaller than their French counterparts but, at £3.50 per kg, cheaper and also fresher. Hairy bittercress is now around and a great salad leaf to accompany smoked meat or cheese. Field blewit mushrooms are around now, and similar to wood blewits, as is wild cabbage.

Sources: 4°C - 020 8558 9708 - / Forager - 01227 730385 -


Pheasants will be picking up in number and quality now but it's still worth waiting for a week or two to get them at their best.

Stick instead with English partridges for the moment, which are in good numbers and priced around £5.25 per bird, or French partridges, available £2 cheaper at £3.25.

Wood pigeons are priced at about £1.60, wild rabbits at £2.80 and whole hares at £9.50, or £7.50 for the saddle.

Venison is at its best at this time of year, so make sure it's on your menu.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707


Large pollack are excellent quality at the moment, as are Cornish sardines, both whole and filleted.

Best value at the moment are 1.5-2kg bass at £11.50 per kg. Large brill and monkfish are good buys at £11.50 per kg and £14.50 per kg respectively, as is day-boat red mullet at £14.50 per kg.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Seasonal recipe

Pumpkin and ginger soup

Ingredients (Serves four)

250g pumpkin
1 onion, medium-sized
1 ginger root
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
20g butter
2 bay leaves
1tsp peppercorns
1 litre water
1tbs cream


Peel and cut 250g of pumpkin into cubes. Peel and chop the onion and a one-inch-sized piece of fresh ginger and reserve.

Wash and chop the coriander leaves and stem and reserve separately.

Heat the butter in a pan, add the bay leaves, peppercorns, onions and ginger, and sauté for two minutes. Add the cubes of pumpkin, coriander stems and water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pass the liquid through a chinois and transfer the liquid into a clean saucepan. Pick out the cubes of pumpkin using a fork, and discard the spices, onion and coriander stem.

Blend the cooked pumpkin with chopped coriander leaves and half a cup of the strained liquid in a food processor.

Reduce the strained liquid for a further five minutes, add the puréed pumpkin, bring to a boil once again and check seasoning.

Serve hot and garnished with a swirl of cream.

Alfred Prasad, head chef, Tamarind, London

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