Pumpkins, clementines, hare

20 October 2005
Pumpkins, clementines, hare

Fresh produce It is best to pre-order any carving pumpkins in advance of Hallowe'en to guarantee supply and specific sizes. The whole of the crop is geared for 31 October, and as there is little demand after that date, most chefs switch back to the tastier Ironbark variety.
Jerusalem artichokes from France are now down in price and definitely worth trying. The quality is excellent. British heritage potatoes are also worth sourcing, including the outstanding Highland Burgundy Red (dating back to around 1936 when they were used to add appropriate colour to a meal for the Duke of Burgundy at the Savoy) and Salad Blue varieties.
Look out soon for the new-crop leafy clementines (pictured) from Spain. Custard apples are beginning to arrive once more, but they need careful handling and are only really worth eating when properly ripened.
French Doyenne du Comice pears are some of the best eating pears at present, and they also lend themselves well to cooking.

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

Good landings along the South Coast mean that Dover soles are now down in price. They are in season now, so this situation should remain. There are also plenty of South Coast sardines being landed, along with steady supplies of gurnard, mackerel, pollack and wytch sole. Lemon soles, though, remain expensive, as do brill. In Scotland, langoustine landings should improve, while haddock and plaice will be getting less expensive again, thanks to more Icelandic fish coming on to the market.

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

Meat We are starting to get the first pheasants through, and the signs point towards it being a good season, so prices should be reasonable. The rest of the game situation is very good, with lots of mallard and teal, more grey partridge and plenty of wood pigeon.
We have also seen a good amount of hare this season. Four or five years ago there weren't very many around, but less destructive farming seems to have encouraged greater numbers.
Beef, lamb and pork are all in good supply, with lots of reasonably priced cheaper cuts ideal for autumnal and wintry stews.

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

Seasonal recipe

Pan-roasted wood pigeon breast with parsnip purée, pickled beetroot and baby turnips, finished with a game sauce

(Serves four)
For the pigeon
4 wild wood pigeons
10 shallots
4 garlic cloves
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 bunch thyme
1tbs redcurrant jelly
1tbs tomato purée
300ml red wine
300ml water
Salt and pepper
40ml olive oil

For the purée 2 large English parsnips
For the baby turnips
8 baby turnips

Method Remove the breasts from the carcass. Roast off the carcass with shallots, garlic, celery and thyme until browned. Put in a heavy-bottomed pan with tomato purée, red wine, jelly and water.
Bring to the boil, simmer and remove scum from the surface. Reduce by about three-quarters. Pass through a fine chinoise, season and reserve.
Cook one parsnip in boiling water, blend to a purée and finish with a little cream.
Slice the other parsnip like potato crisps on a mandolin and deep-fry until crisp. Reserve for garnish.
Cook the baby turnips in milk to keep colour. Pan-roast pigeon breasts in a little olive oil so they remain pink on the inside. Leave to rest and slice lengthways. Make a timbale with the purée, add the turnips, then the pigeon. Finish with the sauce.

Steve Evans, head chef, Gomersal Park hotel, West Yorkshire

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