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Squid, crabs, pheasants

26 October 2006
Squid, crabs, pheasants

Fish

All sizes of squid are in good supply, with the larger varieties line-caught. However, bad weather has seen very few scallops arriving. Sprats from the South Coast, large plaice and halibut are all readily available, as are north Devon hake. Cod and lemon sole will have started the week expensive, as an Icelandic container arrived a day late, but should return to normal as the week continues.

English lobsters continue to become scarcer and prices will stay high, although, shortly, arrivals of Canadian lobsters will offer a cheaper alternative. Crabs are in good condition and will continue to be so until the new year.

There are plenty of shellfish, especially large cockles. With demand huge and illegal fishing rife, scores of cockle beds have been closed. However, our supplier has found an unfished river, meaning larger specimens of the shellfish are currently on the market.

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

Meat

Pheasants are coming in slightly slower than normal this year, with prices hovering around £4.50 a bird, but that should ease in the coming weeks. There has been movement in the turkey market - normal for late October/early November - with boneless turkey breast prices rising by about 15%.

With Continental exporters not threatening to flood the UK market with turkeys like last year, prices should rise by 10-15% over those from late 2005. Otherwise, most other products are stable, with beef still pricy.

Source: Nigel Fredericks, 020 8905 9005 www.nigelfredericks.co.uk

Fresh produce

As the English variety becomes scruffy, a new crop of French watercress is arriving. Shaggy ink mushrooms are good at present, as are white Italian and Périgord truffles. All English apples are currently in season, with Blenheim apples at their best. Nice cardoons are coming in from Spain and quinces and salsify from France. Cherry vine tomatoes are rare at present, so prices have risen, and there is a similar situation with rhubarb.

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

Seasonal recipes

Cornish squid, oak-smoked chorizo, sherry vinegar and baby onions

Ingredients About 25 baby onions, peeled
1kg fresh Cornish squid, cleaned, scored and cut into workable-sized pieces
2 small smoked chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
100ml good-quality sherry vinegar
400ml chicken stock
A good handful of flat-leaf parsley

Method

First, colour the onions in a small pan in a little butter and olive oil. Add a small sprinkle of sugar and keep stirring until the onions begin to caramelise. Add 200ml of the chicken stock, reduce the heat, cover and cook slowly till the onions are tender, then set aside.

Get a deep frying pan or skillet really hot with a dash of olive oil. Season the squid with salt and white pepper, place in the pan scored side down and sear until the flesh begins to colour. Turn the pieces over and cook a little longer (well-prepped squid will roll up scored side out when it is cooked). Remove the squid from the pan and slice. This may have to be done in a few stages depending on the size of pan.

Add the chorizo and sear for a minute or two stirring continuously to colour the meat and release some of the flavoursome meat fats. Pour in the sherry vinegar, deglaze the pan and reduce by two-thirds.

Finally, add the remaining chicken stock, the squid, onions and parsley and bring back up to the boil. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Can be served with grilled bread, rocket or saffron potatoes.

Toby Gritten, head chef, the Albion, Bristol

Roast pheasant with Alsace choucroute

Ingredients
(Serves four)

500g raw choucroute
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
100ml duck fat
3 black peppercorns
3 juniper berries
1 large pheasant
1/2 Morteaux sausage (leave in one piece)
2in cube of smoked bacon belly (leave in one piece)
1 whole carrot
Chicken stock
200ml Alsace Riesling
1tsp good-quality grain mustard
Salt and pepper

Method

Rinse choucroute under cold running water for two hours. Gently sweat onion and garlic in duck fat with a lid on pan until onions are soft but not brown. Drain onions and put into clean pan and add Riesling, cooking until reduced by half. Mix onions with washed cabbage

Roughly crush peppercorns and juniper berries and tie up in a piece of muslin cloth with kitchen string. Take the legs off the pheasant. Quickly caramelise the legs with duck fat and add a little seasoning. Put an inch of cabbage in a heavy-bottomed pan, then add sausage, bacon, carrot, pheasant legs and muslin cloth and put remaining cabbage on top. Add just enough chicken stock to cover.

Cover pan with baking parchment and bake in the oven at 150°C for about 21/2 hours, checking regularly to ensure that carrot, sausages and bacon are not overcooked (they should be soft but not mushy). Sear pheasant gently in a hot pan with duck fat and seasoning until golden. Add butter, garlic and thyme. Place in oven at 180°C for about 10 minutes, then remove and rest.

Make sauce by taking some of the choucroute cooking liquid and thicken by adding the grain mustard. When pheasant has rested for at least 15 minutes, remove breasts, slicing each into eight slices at an angle. Neatly slice carrots, bacon and sausage and arrange with cabbage on plates. Place a piece of braised pheasant leg on top, then arrange four slices of the breast, before saucing.

Jun Tanaka, executive chef, Pearl restaurant, London

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