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Globe Artichokes,Red Mullet,Pigeon

08 March 2007
Globe Artichokes,Red Mullet,Pigeon

Fresh produce

English curly kale is still in excellent supply but a lot of produce will be heading in from the Continent until spring. Mediterranean climes are the biggest source of supply at this time of year, with nice globe artichokes and Gariguette strawberries arriving from Spain, speciality radicchios, including Castelfranco and Tardivo, arriving from Italy and French Carmine red chicory also available. A new crop of Israeli new potatoes is now on the market. From further afield, Australian cherries are available but expensive, while apricots, peaches and nectarines from the same source are better value but still dearer than Chilean alternatives.

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

Fish

Unsettled weather has seen huge price rises for inshore fish, especially sea bass, red mullet and John Dory, which is now up to about £18.50 per kg. Squid prices have also risen. For a bargain it's worth considering pollack, which is cheap at present, as is Icelandic cod and halibut. English lobster prices are high and Canadian prices have also risen, as one would expect this time of year. There are plenty of large crabs available but fresh crab meat is in very short supply at present, with commercial pickers preferring the smaller, cheaper but, at present, scarcer crabs. The first of the wild sea trout will be available in London this weekend, at about £12.50 per kg, which is a fair price for a wild fish. Shellfish is plentiful, with cockles, winkles, razor clams and almost any other variety widely available. Sea urchins, rising in popularity among chefs, will also be available on the London market for this weekend.

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

Meat

There have been no significant changes. Poultry remains settled, while milk-fed lambs are slow to the market as farmers will have planned their breeding schedules to coincide with Easter, when lamb is in high demand. Rain has meant slight shortages of rabbit and pigeon, but the situation should improve as the weather settles. The game season is well and truly over now as hares start to mate. Venison will be around for another month but after that there will be nothing until 12 August.

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

Seasonal recipeRoast marinated pigeon breasts with soft butternut squash, polenta, seared foie gras and balsamic
Ingredients (Serves four)

8 pigeon breasts
60g duck fat
Salt and pepper
240g foie gras, sliced 1/4in thick
Garnish: 60g frisée
To deglaze: 60ml aged balsamic vinegar and 60ml seasoned game jus
For the marinade:-
100ml port
100ml olive oil
100ml red wine
50ml brandy
1/2tsp cinnamon
Chopped thyme
For the polenta
125g polenta
500ml water
110g grated butternut squash, cooked
55g grated Parmesan
Nutmeg
Salt
Olive oil
100ml double cream

Method

Marinate the pigeon breasts for 24 hours (allow two breasts per person). Sear the breasts in duck fat, allowing two minutes for each side. Rest the meat then slice in half. Season. Retain the pan in which the pigeon has been cooked. Tip out the fat and when the pan is smoking hot, sear the foie gras for 30 seconds on each side. Whisk the polenta into boiling salted water, cooking until smooth. Incorporate the butternut squash, Parmesan, nutmeg, olive oil and seasoning with a wooden spoon, adding the cream last of all. The whole process should take about 10 minutes. Put the polenta in a deep dish, arrange the seared pigeon breasts on top. Add a handful of frisée on top and lastly the seared foie gras. Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of aged balsamic and add an equal amount of game jus. Pour over the foie gras and serve immediately.

Redmond Hayward, chef-proprietor, Redmonds, East Sheen, London

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