Octopus, St George mushroom and rhubarb

31 March 2005
Octopus, St George mushroom and rhubarb

Fish Due to the Easter break there will be a bit of a shortage on most fish this week. With Denmark and the Faroes shut down from Thursday last week, suppliers have been reliant on fish coming from Iceland. There will not be any supplies from Denmark until Friday. As a result, cod will be rather scarce, as will herring. Haddock, Dover sole and lemon sole, however, should come down in price thanks to fish arriving from Iceland, but watch out for some older fish. From the South Coast expect slightly higher prices on bream, dogfish and brill, and, as the tides won't allow netters to go out until the middle of the week, there could be shortages of hake and pollack, too. However, there should be good supplies of sardines, octopus, whiting, wytch sole and conger eel

M&J Seafood
01296 588221

Fresh produce April will see the return of the popular St George mushroom, a true seasonal favourite. Outdoor-grown rhubarb is also now back in abundance. Later in April we will see the first of the European stone fruits begin again with the return of loquats and medlars. The first of the French frais de bois (wild strawberries) will also start again. Black cabbage is finished as the remaining crops are now flowering. But you can take advantage of some fantastic fresh broad beans and peas again this month. Wild garlic leaf normally lasts until the end of April, but should we experience another dry month, the leaf will flower and end early.

Source: Chef's Connection
020 7627 4809

. . . and how to use them

British Lop pork belly This breed is thought to have come from the white pigs of Wales, Cumberland and Ulster and was formally established in 1920. Today, British Lop is found mostly in the West Country on smaller farms. Its sides are long and deep and hams well-developed, with a straight back suitable for bacon. Despite its qualities, the breed hasn't been commercially recognised but has good support from those keen on rare-breed pork.

Ingredients (Serves 8-10)
1 British Lop pork belly (weighing about 2kg when trimmed and skinned)
250g sea salt
250g table salt
4 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch thyme
1/2 bunch curly parsley
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 litre brown chicken stock
1 litre brown veal stock
2 small tins butter beans (or 400g dried)
2 carrots
2 parsnips
2 red onions

Method Place the salt, bay leaves, three-quarters of the thyme and four cloves of garlic in a blender and pulse for one minute. Liberally cover the pork belly with the mix on both sides and leave to marinate for 24 hours. After marinating, wash off the pork belly, place in a tray with 1in of water, cover with foil and bake at 135íC for three hours, or until tender. After cooking, chill the pork belly so it will become easier to portion.
When cold, cut the pork belly into portions about 4in square. Place the belly, skin side down, in some hot fat and cook in a hot oven for about eight minutes. When hot in the middle, remove from the pan and leave skin side up so it stays crisp.
Place the bread, two cloves of garlic and parsley in a blender and pulse until a fine green breadcrumb is achieved.
Peel the carrots, red onions and parsnips. Cut into smaller pieces and roast in a hot oven until soft in the middle and golden brown on the outside - about 25 minutes.
Reduce the two stocks together until thick and syrupy. Add butter beans to stock with the remainder of the chopped thyme (if using dried beans, soak for five hours and simmer for one hour, or till soft, adding salt at the last minute). When hot, add the root vegetables.
To serve, lay the beans and vegetables in a large bowl with plenty of gravy. Slice a portion of belly into three pieces and lay it on top of the beans. Finally, sprinkle over some of the crumbs.
Craig James, head chef, Butlers Wharf Chop House, London

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