Red Mullet, Pork, Clementines

11 December 2008 by
Red Mullet, Pork, Clementines


Suckling pig supplies are good and represent a worthy consideration for Christmas menus. All game is around, except for English partridge, rabbit and wild duck, which are all proving elusive. There is good English pork around at excellent prices, while beef prices are stable in the run-up to Christmas.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Fresh produce

A Christmas must-have, chestnuts are available for about £2 per kg, although the intensive labour involved in shelling them sees many chefs turn to the vac-packed variety this time of year, available at £3.50 for 500g.

Cèpes are still coming in from South Africa at £27 per kg, while US and Canadian girolles are slightly up at £20 per kg and pieds de mouton are consistent at £13-£15 per kg.

Staying with the more luxurious produce, white truffles are gaining in price and are currently on the market for £3,000 per kg, with autumn truffles priced at £500 per kg and black winter ones at £595 per kg.

Also around are all the usual root vegetables, plus purple sprouting broccoli, squashes - particularly onion, spaghetti and butternut, pears, Muscat grapes and clementines.

Wild Harvest - 020 7498 5397 -


Fish supplies are in good shape this week. Red mullet from the Channel Islands and Cornwall is in exquisite condition, while farmed Norwegian halibut is also exceptional. Priced at up to £13.50 per kg for 10kg fish, it has a great yield and is worth considering as its wild equivalent is on the endangered list.

Shellfish are very good at present, with the less-used manilla clams among the usual suspects. Also called vongole veraci, they are regarded as the best clams in Italy, and are being collected from our own waters in Poole Harbour.

Good line-caught sea bass are arriving from Dorset, and with fishermen going to work straight after Christmas there should be fish arriving in London for New Year's Eve.

Sprats, sardines, Cornish herrings and skate from north Devon are all worthy options, while Scottish supplies of langoustines and diver-caught scallops are steady.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Seasonal recipe

Chestnut and sweet onion soup with trompette mushrooms

You can make this delicious autumnal soup with any type of wild mushroom or even ordinary chestnut mushrooms. For a touch of luxury, sprinkle over a little shaved truffle as you serve it.

Ingredients (Serves four)

75g butter
2 white onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1tsp thyme, chopped
1tsp rosemary, chopped
200g fresh or frozen chestnuts, thinly sliced
100g trompettes de mort mushrooms, cleaned and picked over
100g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
200ml Madeira
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tsp tarragon, chopped
1tbs parsley, chopped


Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan and cook the onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary in it until the onions are translucent, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the chestnuts and cook lightly for a further five minutes. Stir in both types of mushroom and cook for a further two minutes. Pour in the Madeira and reduce by two-thirds. Add the stock or water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Finish with salt and pepper to taste, and scatter over the chopped tarragon and chopped parsley.

Anthony Demetre, chef-proprietor, Arbutus, London, taken from his book Today's Special (Quadrille Publishing, £20 hardback)

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