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Eat the Seasons - June 2013

In season this month


Fruits & Nuts
Cherries, Elderflowers, Rhubarb
Vegetables & Herbs
Asparagus, Broccoli, Carrots, Lettuce, New Potatoes, Radishes, Rocket, Sorrel, Spinah, Spring Onions, Watercress
Meat & Game
Rabbit, Wood pigeon
Fish & Shellfish
Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Hailbut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Plaice, Salmon, Sea Bass, Sea Trout

Going out of season

Asparagus, Elderflower, Gooseberry, Hare, New Potatoes

British produce really shines in June.  At this time of year the seasonal array is dazzling: omega 3-rich mackerel; broad beans and peas; earthy beetroot; tangy gooseberries, raspberries and succulent strawberries.  With so much choice it is hard to decide what ingredient to focus on.  But….as we are in a position to eat like the gods then I thought let’s start with Poseidon and talk about seafood!

 

Historians tell us humans have been eating crustaceans (lobsters, crabs & shrimp) since prehistoric times, and much as I love to be creative sometimes it is a real treat to take a break from modern global cooking and return to something purely and simply British or, in this case, English.

 

For centuries in this country there has been a great tradition of potting meat, fish, game and even cheese, and the results could hold their own among any collection of Continental pâtés and terrines. We adore this particular recipe for potted crab. It's brilliant as a first course for a summer meal for six people, but two or three could easily polish off the whole lot for lunch. Either way, I like to serve it with a selection of artisan breads from East Dulwich’s very own fabulous Brick House Bakery ….and mustard and cress of course!

Potted Cromer Crab

Serves 6
Ingredients

  • 5oz (150g) white crab meat
  • 5oz (150g) brown crab meat (or you can use 2 dressed Cromer crabs instead of buying crab meat)
  • 1oz (25g) shallots (about 1 medium shallot) peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Manzanilla sherry
  • Good pinch ground mace
  • Good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5oz (150g) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy essence
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus extra if needed
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed pink peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped dill
  • salt

Method

  1. Begin by placing the shallots, sherry and spices in a small saucepan. Bring the whole lot up to simmering point, then boil quite briskly until the liquid has reduced to about a generous dessertspoon – it should only take about 2 minutes.

  2. Next, stir in the cubes of butter and, when they are melted, turn the heat down to very low and let it all simmer as gently as possible for 15 minutes, giving it a stir from time to time. After that, remove it from the heat and leave it to cool for about half an hour.
    Towards the end of that time you'll need to assemble a nylon sieve fitted over a bowl and another bowl filled with ice cubes. Then pour the spicy butter through the sieve and press well to extract all the juice from the shallots.

  3. Now set the bowl over the ice and, using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the butter becomes thick and creamy without becoming hard. Now mix in the crab meat, anchovy essence, teaspoon of lemon juice, crushed peppercorns, chopped dill and a really good seasoning of salt. Taste and check the seasoning – you might like to add a little extra lemon juice. Then spoon the mixture into the ramekins or a larger pot. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 3 hours.

  4. Remove the potted crab from the fridge about half an hour before serving and serve with mustard and cress, lemon quarters and toasted or fresh artisan bread and butter.

  5. If you want to make this a day or so ahead, cover the surface with melted butter to seal off the air. To do this, melt 50 g (2 oz) of butter and divide it between the ramekins, pouring a bit over the potted crab in each one, or pour it all over the potted crab in the single large pot.