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Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, hazelnuts

08 December 2005
Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, hazelnuts

Meat
Lamb is proving to be fantastic this year. The late start to the season means the quality of the meat is still incredible - better than it's ever been at this time of year. But while everyone is going for prime cuts, the legs and shoulders are proving the most cost-effective.

You can even use the offcuts from the shoulder and the bas-cote for a hotpot.

Game is still very good, with woodcock coming through in slightly better numbers. Beef prices have also settled as the panic over bird flu - which was affecting prices as wholesalers predicted a backlash against a turkey Christmas - seems to have disappeared.

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

Fresh produce
Jerusalem artichokes are excellent, as are small, triangular Chantenay baby carrots. Beetroots are also in full swing.

Dried fruit and small, shell-on nuts are also popular at this time of year. Hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and almonds are all available, although there's still a ban on importing Brazil nuts in the shell.

Italian winter melons are also now coming through. They can't be smelled for ripeness because of their thick, green skin. Sharon fruits and pomegranates from Israel are also very good.

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

Fish
South-Coast weather conditions should be good this week, and with landings good at the end of last week too, prices will be down on brill, squid and skate. There are still reasonable quantities of Dovers, octopus, pollack (below) and even some hook-and-line-caught native sea bass on the market. Landings of mackerel, herrings and John Dory have been much smaller.

Bad weather in Scotland has affected scallops and salmon supply, and cancellation of harvests has allowed Norwegian farmers to push up prices.

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

Seasonal recipe

Lancashire hotpot

Ingredients (Serves four)
1 kg under-shoulder, neck and shin of lamb, cut into 3-4cm thick pieces
25g plain flour
700g thinly sliced onions
40g salted English butter, melted
1kg peeled King Edward potatoes
150ml chicken stock
3tsp sea salt
White pepper

Method Season the lamb with a teaspoonful of salt and a good pinch of pepper. Dust with the flour. Put the lamb into the base of the hotpot dish (stoneware, diameter 8in or 21cm, height 31/2in or 9cm).

Sweat off the onions in 15g of the butter with one teaspoonful of salt for 4-5 minutes. Spread the onions evenly on top of the lamb in the hotpot dish.

Slice the potatoes horizontally, 2mm thick. Place in a medium-size bowl, add the remaining 25g melted butter, season with a teaspoonful of salt and a pinch of white pepper, mix well.

Put the sliced potatoes evenly on top of the onions, reserving the best-shaped rounds for the final layer and add the chicken stock.

Place the covered hotpot in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180-200°C, then for about 21½ hours at 130°C. Remove from the oven, take off the lid or cover, return to the oven at 180-200°C for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with pickled red cabbage and glazed baby carrots.

Nigel Trebble, head chef, Boulevard Bar & Dining Room, London

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