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Eat the Seasons - October 2012

In season this month

Fruit, Nuts & Fungi
Apples, blackberries, chestnuts, elderberries, figs, grapes, pears, quince, tomatoes, walnuts.  Lots of lovely mushrooms; chanterelles, chestnuts, horse mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, parasol mushrooms, puffballs, giant shaggy ink caps and summer truffles

Vegetables & Herbs
Beetroot, borlotti beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, courgettes, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins & squash, rocket, salsify, scorzonera, spinach, turnips

Meat & Game
Duck, wild goose, grouse, guinea fowl, hare, mallard, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, venison, wood pigeon

Fish & Shellfish
Cod, crab, eels, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops, sea bass, sprats, squid, brown and rainbow trout

The game season has arrived, and with it a wonderful array of russet hued pumpkins, earthy mushrooms and sweet shallots, and shellfish fans will be delighted to see oysters and mussels coming into season this month.  The abundance of British fruit continues with apples, plums, quince, pears and soft fruits all readily available, if not in your own back garden, then certainly at your local greengrocers.  Make the most of them by chopping fresh or poached fruit and mixing with fresh yoghurt and a little honey for a healthy dessert, or for the grown ups, heat prepared fruit gently in a frying pan with a little butter and the juice from half an orange, pour on a tablespoon of rum and set alight as you bring it to the table!

Meanwhile, my favourite ‘super-veg’, broccoli will soon be out of season, so enjoy it while you can – it is an amazing vegetable – 100g will provide you with more than enough of your daily recommended vitamin C and it is also a fantastic source of co-enzyme Q10 – a critical nutrient for energy production.  As long as you don’t overcook it you will also benefit from Vitamin E, folate, beta-carotene, fibre, iron and potassium.  It almost sounds like a meal in itself!

This month I wanted to celebrate the change of season with a recipe that could be easily adapted to suit many tastes and budgets, whilst using the very best of the seasons ingredients.  Most supermarkets will offer some sort of game casserole pack, made up of things like pheasant, pigeon, partridge and duck, but feel free to adjust to include more of your personal favourites.

Low & Slow Game Casserole

This month I wanted to celebrate the change of season with a recipe that could be easily adapted to suit many tastes and budgets, whilst using the very best of the seasons ingredients.  Ask your local butcher if they can put together a game casserole pack, made up of things like pheasant, rabbit, pigeon, partridge and duck, feel free to adjust to include more of your personal favourites.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 700g game casserole pack
  • salt
  • pepper
  • butter
  • 4 slices of streaky bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 or 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 12-14 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated as per the instructions
  • 250ml red wine
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 500g pumpkin or squash, peeled and chopped into cubes (optional)
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped curly leaf parsley

Method

  • Heat the oven to 160oC.
  • Melt the butter on a medium heat in an oven safe casserole with a lid.  Season the game well.  Fry the game in batches until well browned on all sides.  When done remove to a plate.
  • Once all the game has been fried and removed, add in the bacon, shallots and carrots an fry whilst stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add in the thyme, porcini mushrooms, wine and chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat.
  • Put the lid on the casserole and pop it into the oven.  Cook for about 60 minutes
  • Add the pumpkin or squash and cook for another 30 minutes, or until cooked and well tender.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and stir in the parsley.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes