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Clementines; Crosnes; herrings

10 November 2005
Clementines; Crosnes; herrings

Meat
UK beef and lamb are both going up in price but, with the beef especially, quality is absolutely at its best. The animals have had all summer to graze, and the condition of the meat is fabulous. Pork is more stable, and there are particularly good deals to be had on loins.

The game situation is still very good, with prices offering good value. Pheasants are just beginning to come through in more numbers and with improved quality.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallen.co.uk

Fresh Produce
There has been speculation about the cost of olive oil next year. The very dry conditions this year have meant that Spain has had its second bad growing season in a row. Some predict the price could increase by as much as 30%.

Leafy clementines and satsumas are now coming through ready for the festive season. The clementines, from Spain and Italy, are improving in flavour every week. Fresh cranberries are also arriving from the USA.

Crosnes are also back in season. These small root vegetables (above) are also known as Chinese artichokes and are very tasty. Red-stem Swiss chard is also coming through, while there are also some lactaire and charbonnier (or charcoal) mushrooms from France on the market.

The white and black truffle season is now in full swing. Prices, as ever, fluctuate massively depending on grades and origin.

Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com

Fish
Mixed weather conditions last week are expected to continue, leading to variable supplies. South Coast catches were down but prices should begin to ease again now on Dover soles, eels, squid, sardines - and herrings, which are very good quality at the moment. There should also be supplies of pollack, gurnard and octopus, while some Atlantic wild halibut should arrive in UK ports this week.

Wild cod is proving expensive, as is haddock, thanks to bad weather around Iceland, but local fish should be more reasonable. Plaice is also set to rise in price.

Wild native sea bass, turbot and skate wings continue to be very expensive.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221 www.mjseafoods.com

Seasonal recipe

Pan-roast fillet of Dexter beef with baked pan haggerty, beer-battered onion rings, thyme and root vegetable juices

Ingredients (Serves four)
4 fillet steaks (250g each)
Salt
Pepper
Fresh thyme, chopped
Butter
Oil

For the pan haggerty 4 large potatoes, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 celeriac, peeled
1 parsnip, peeled
200g mature Cheddar, grated
1 bunch fresh thyme

For the onion rings 2 red onions, peeled and sliced
250g self-raising flour
1tsp salt
1tsp white wine vinegar
200ml beer
100ml water
Pinch of fresh thyme

For the thyme juices 300ml veal jus
100ml beer
Picked thyme

For garnish 2 carrots, chopped into 2cm cubes, boiled
1/2 swede, chopped into 2cm cubes, boiled
12 baby onions, peeled and boiled

Method Season the steaks with salt, pepper and a little chopped thyme. You can use any breed, but the Dexter (pictured above) we use comes from about 10 miles down the road and is packed with flavour - but it is about half the size of a regular fillet.

Seal in a little hot oil and butter until nicely coloured. Place in a hot oven and cook for four minutes. Remove from the oven and rest in a warm place.

It is best to make the pan haggerty (which originates from Northumberland) a day in advance. Place all the grated vegetables in a bowl and mix with freshly chopped thyme and plenty of salt and pepper. Put the mix into a buttered baking dish about 10cm deep, press down and put the grated cheese on top. Bake in a medium oven for about an hour. Place a weight on top and refrigerate. When needed, cut out with plain pastry cutter (about 10cm), place on tray and heat through in the oven.

To make the beer batter, whisk all the ingredients together and season to taste. Coat the onion rings in seasoned flour and then dip in the batter. Deep-fry until golden brown.

To make the sauce, reduce the beer by two-thirds and add the veal jus. Simmer until it reaches the right consistency. Add thyme, cooked onions and root vegetables to warm through.

Assemble the dish by placing the pan haggerty on the plate with the fillet carved around. Stack the onion on top of the "pan hag". Put the garnish and sauce around, and serve with a pint of your favourite ale.

James Mackenzie, head chef, the Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire

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