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Here's what's in season at the farmers' market in November
Following an excellent summer, October certainly brought back some of the rain we needed! Now the clocks have gone back and it’s that time of year again when short days and cold nights mean we all crave comfort from the kitchen. Slow-cooked casseroles, homely dishes such as the mashed topped game pie, rich flavoured roasts and warming puds all fit the bill perfectly. So head out to the Famer’s Market for inspiration.
Make local game the meat of choice this month as the season is well under way for birds such as pheasant, partridge and wild duck. Venison makes a healthy choice as most wild game has a low fat content. This means careful cooking to avoid letting the meat dry out. Forget the old traditional slow cooking methods in stews and casseroles flash-frying or, grilling are better suited to lean, tender cuts.
If you want to slow cook for great comfort eating, try some of the cheaper cuts of beef, lamb and pork such as shin of beef, belly pork, or lamb neck, all cook down to meltingly wonderful mouthfuls of flavour, perfect for colder days. Remember that most stews, pies and casseroles actually improve in flavour from being cooked and stored for a day or two in the fridge before serving. Buy and cook for double and put half in the freezer ready for another meal.
Colder coastal waters at this time of year make for the highest quality fish and as the temperature drops the range available just gets better. Dover sole, turbot and halibut are rightly considered the very finest eating by cooks and chefs. But also this month why not try some of the lower cost alternatives as many are at their best. Brill is a real discovery if you haven’t tried it before – a firm white flesh full of clean flavour that only needs simple cooking. Or opt for healthy mackerel and herring, full of valuable Omega 3 fish oils. Shellfish including oysters, scallops and mussels are also all good this month.
Root vegetables are at their tastiest now and perfect for mashes, gratins and roasts – they improve with the cold and you will notice a marked difference in flavour from locally sourced varieties compared to supermarket specimens. Look out for parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, swede and turnips. Try cooking peeled, cubed celeriac with a couple of cloves of garlic in the cooking water then mash with a big dollop of butter to go with venison or roast beef. Main crop potatoes are full of texture and flavour and the varieties available in your own area are worth exploring. Ask Gary or Lorraine for advice on which potato to buy – the right one, floury or waxy, will make all the difference to the finished dish. The brassicas really come into their own this month too – kale, spring greens, Brussels sprouts and all kinds of cabbages are wonderful in stir-fries, soups, and hashes or just steamed with grated nutmeg and more butter! And red cabbage cooked with apple, spices and red wine is another seasonal treat to go with rich pork, or maybe a roasted wild duck.
Apples and pears are in abundance this year, all benefiting from the cool wet spring so try as many local varieties as possible – Bramleys are perfect for using in mincemeat and Christmas pudding so buy them ready for stir-up Sunday at the end of the month. Carry on making chutneys and pickles and remember the eating varieties can also be used in tarts, puddings and cakes.
Each month a different farmers' market is featured in Kent Life Magazine along with a seasonal recipe made with local produce HERE>
Why buy seasonal food?