Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, who runs the British Larder pub and restaurant in Bromeswell, Suffolk, looks at what prime ingredients November has in store for us
The countryside has turned the most delicious shades of orange, red and brown. Every so often you might see a fallow or roe deer ducking behind the trees, or wild rabbits and hares darting across the plains. The early morning frosts that are appearing prove crucial for the flavour development of winter roots such as parsnips and swedes.
The trees are close to dropping all of their remaining leaves, and slowly, the chestnuts are becoming ready to be harvested. It's the final time to gather the last of the wild foods on offer, such as the delectable trompette de la mort, hiding under the golden leaves of autumn. The frost has finally descended on us, and sloe gin is in the making for the bitter cold of the darker months to follow.
The imports of pomegranates, cranberries and tangerines are arriving and it's time to start making plans for Christmas. Now that Halloween has passed, save the pumpkins - they store well and are perfect for the cold and gloomy days. The riper the pumpkin, the tastier and sweeter they are.
Pheasants are large long-tailed game birds. You can see them all year round in the countryside, hiding in the hedgerows and near the woodland edges. The males are larger and more colourful than the females, with a bottle-green head and a very long tail; the females are smaller and dusty-brown.
Officially the pheasant season runs from 1 October to 1 February, but it is rare for anyone to shoot them before the end of October. We need a cold snap to encourage the birds to eat and become more plump. They are normally plentiful by mid-November, and pheasant then becomes cheaper - its price can plummet by up to 50% when the glut kicks in.
Pheasant legs are normally very tough and inedible unless they've been cooked for a long time at a stable temperature.
http://www.butcherandedmonds.com" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Recipe: Slow-cooked pheasant, pink fir fondant potatoes and celeriac cream >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/03/335819/slow-cooked-pheasant-pink-fir-fondant-potatoes-and-celeriac-cream.htm)
Medlars are intriguing. They look similar to apples, but are very hard and acidic. The fruits become edible after being softened or bletted by frost, or left to soften naturally. Bletting means that the fruit should be left to ripen to the point where the flesh starts to decay and ferment.
A medlar needs to be very soft and rotten before it could be used for making jellies, sauces or wine. In most cases medlars are mixed with apples but the recipe (see below) uses quinces.
Quinces are related to pears and apples, and similarly, produce a pome fruit. Bright yellow and pear-shaped, they are the largest of the three fruits. Like medlars, quinces need to be bletted before they are ready to be used, as they are hard and very acidic.
Quinces have a unique grainy texture, regardless of how long they have been cooked for. They naturally turn pink if cooked for a long period of time. Quinces oxidises immediately once the skin is peeled away - to prevent discolouration dunk them into water enriched with lemon juice or vitamin C powder. Quinces are ideal for both savoury and sweet dishes and are most commonly turned into Membrillo, also known as quince cheese, and served with a cheese course.
[Recipe: Medlar and quince jelly with quince curd tarts >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/03/335824/Medlar-and-quince-jelly-with-quince-curd-tarts.htm)
Wild rabbit has a mild, subtle gamey taste. The meat is lean and could easily be dry and tasteless if cooked too fast at too high a temperature, or if simply overcooked.
It is available all year round; however the best taste and the better sizes are available from September until December.
Rabbit meat can be hung to mature and develop richness of flavour. Alternatively, if it's too gamey then soak it in a brine solution of 200g of salt to 1 litre of cold water for four hours to tone down the taste.
There is a significant difference between wild rabbit and hare meat. Hare meat is darker in colour and is much richer and gamier than rabbit.
For the wild rabbit terrine with quince chutney recipe on page 49, the wild rabbit could be substituted for hare.
TROMPETTE DE LA MORT
Also known as horn of plenty, black chanterelle and the translation from French, meaning trumpet of death, trompette de la mort is black in colour as its name suggests. The scientific name is raterellus cornucopioides.
The unique taste of wet woodland and a slight nutty taste make this wild mushroom interesting and a favourite among chefs. Unlike most wild mushrooms, trompette de la mort absorbs a minimal amount of water and oil - it's not spongey like most wild and cultivated mushrooms.
When cleaning these wild mushrooms always be extra vigilant for woodland bugs and debris, twigs and ferns stuck inside the funnel shape of the mushroom.
For the best flavour sauté them quickly in butter or olive oil. The colour and flavour of trompette de la mort complements the flavour of the wild rabbit perfectly in the wild rabbit terrine with quince chutney.
NOVEMBER'S SEASONAL DELIGHTS
Beetroot, brill, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbages, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, clams, clementines, crab, cranberries, Dover sole, duck, eel, goose, haddock, hake, halibut, Jerusalem artichokes, John Dory, kale, kohlrabi, langoustines, leeks, lemon sole, lobster, monkfish, mussels, onions, oysters, parsnips, pears, plaice, pollack, pomegranate, pumpkins, quince, salsify, satsumas, scallops, sea bass, skate, squid, swede, Swiss chard, tangerines, turbot, turnips, winkles
WILD FOODS FOR NOVEMBER
Chestnuts, grouse, guinea fowl, hare, horseradish, mallard, medlars, nettles, partridges, pheasant, rosehips, teal, sea beet, sea purslane, venison, walnuts, widgeon, wild mushrooms, wild rabbit, woodcock, wood pigeon
WILD RABBIT TERRINE WITH QUINCE CHUTNEY
For the wild rabbit terrine
2 wild rabbits
2 lightly smoked ham knuckles
1 stick of celery
4 sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic
1tsp coriander seeds
8 leaves of gelatine
1 Savoy cabbage
200g trompette de la mort mushrooms
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
METHOD Cook the ham hocks and make the jelly: Place the hocks in a deep saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil, removing the impurities. Top the water up and add the carrot, leek, celery, 2 sprigs of thyme, peppercorns and coriander seeds. Simmer for about 3 hours until the ham is cooked.
Pass the liquid through a fine sieve and measure 1 litre of the cooking liquid. Soak the gelatine in cold water and add it to the 1 litre of warm stock. Flake the ham meat from the bone and remove the fat.
Cook the rabbit legs: Remove the rabbit back and front legs, remove the loins and set aside. Place the legs with 1tbs of olive oil, salt and the remaining thyme and one garlic clove in a vacuum bag, seal and cook in a preheated water bath at 83e_SDgrC for 12 hours. Flake the cooked meat.
Wash the trompette de la mort mushrooms, then sauté in butter, season and drain. Remove only the very green leaves of the cabbage, shred and blanch in salted water, refresh and drain.
Cook the rabbit loins in a non-stick frying pan with butter for about 5-6 minutes until slightly pink. Rest the loins for 5 minutes before assembling the terrine.
Heat the stock and pour some of the hot stock over the cooked ham and flaked rabbit meat.
Line a terrine mould with clingfilm; build the terrine, starting with the ham and some stock, followed by the cabbage and mushrooms, and season after every third layer. Follow with the flaked rabbit meat, more mushrooms and cabbage, place the loins in and add more stock.
Complete the terrine layer by layer until the mould is packed. Finish it off with a layer of ham, then close the clingfilm over the terrine and place a heavy weight on top. Place the terrine in the fridge and leave to set overnight.
For the quince chutney
250ml white wine vinegar
250g caster sugar
100g golden sultanas
1kg ripe quinces, peeled and diced in 1cm pieces
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, finely diced
50g ginger, puréed
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
METHODPlace all the ingredients with seasoning in a large saucepan over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar has dissolved bring the mixture to a rapid boil and simmer until the chutney becomes thick. You will notice that the bubbles become laboured and heavier. Stir regularly to prevent the chutney from sticking. Cook until the chutney is the right consistency.
TO SERVE Slice the terrine 1.5cm thick, glaze with truffle oil and season if needed with sea salt flakes. Serve with a light salad and the quince chutney along with toasted brioche or sourdough bread.
[Slow-cooked pheasant, Pink Fir fondant potatoes and celeriac cream >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/03/335819/slow-cooked-pheasant-pink-fir-fondant-potatoes-and-celeriac-cream.htm)
[Medlar and quince jelly with quince curd tarts >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/11/03/335824/Medlar-and-quince-jelly-with-quince-curd-tarts.htm)
MY FAVOURITE SUPPLIERS: ANDREW TURNER, WILTONS, LONDON
Rossmore Oysters Contact: Tristan Hugh-Jones
Lakeview, Old Hollow, Worth, Sussex RH10 4TA
Chamberlin and Therwell
Trafalgar Way, Billingsgate Market, London E14 5ST
0207 537 3412
VENISON AND LAMB
The Denham Estate
Contact: Cecilia Gliksten
Denham, Barrow, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP29 5EQ
Allens of Mayfair 117 Mount Street, London W1K 3LA
0207 499 5831 (for central London) or
[Butcher and Edmonds
Hereford House, 15 Cranmer Road, London, SW9 6EJ
0207 582 8777
LIVE LOBSTERColchester Oysters
Pyefleet Quay, Mersea Island, Colchester, Essex CO5 8UN
WILD SMOKED SALMONKing's
Contact: Laura King
6 Mill Farm Business Park, Millfield Road,Hanworth, Middlesex TW4 5PY
0208 894 1111