Wild garlic leaves, Valencia orange, veal

Thursday 23rd February 2006 00:00

Meat
The avian flu scare has left the poultry market in a state of confusion. Chicken is getting more expensive, with talk of a ban on imports, while producers are also underestimating the amount they will produce in case their flocks get hit. At the same time, the outbreak in Italy has led to a massive drop in consumption. As long as the EU doesn't ban chicken exports, this could result in cheaper chicken.

With chicken off the menu for many Italians, veal has become the meat of choice and prices are soaring. If an EU ban on chicken exports does come in, expect prices on fish and other meats to rocket as well - by up to 40%.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk

Fish
Supplies should be improving after strong winds at the start of the week. Brill, Dovers, whiting, herring and squid (pictured) will be available, but prices on most native fish will remain high. There will also be fewer landings of langoustines from Scotland, and cod and haddock from Iceland. There should be more farmed fish available, although a ferry strike in Greece could affect supplies of sea bass.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com

Fresh produce
Wild garlic leaves are appearing in the furthest parts of the South-west, but most of the country will have to wait until the first week of March because of the lack of rain.

Good quality Italian produce is now arriving, including Swiss chard, leafy lemons, turnip greens and pale aubergines. Turkish morels are also now on the market, but are expensive.

Spanish blackberries are showing good quality, but still expensive. The Late Valencia oranges from Cuba (branded under the name Cubanita) are also back in season.

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

Seasonal recipe
Périgord truffle macaroni cheese and foraged garlic leaves

Ingredients
(Serves four)

For the macaroni
500g durum wheat flour
2tbs ice-cold water
Pinch salt

For the cream mixture
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 head garlic
500ml double cream
100ml whole milk

For the cheese sauce
100g Parmesan, grated
50g Gruyère, grated
50g horse mushrooms (or similar)
Olive oil
Butter
250g wild garlic leaves, picked and washed
1/2 lemon

To finish
20g chopped tarragon
5ml truffle oil
1 Périgord truffle, truffle slicer
Fine rock salt
Pepper

Method
Place wheat flour in a bowl and make a well. Dissolve salt in water and add it gradually. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together to form a dry tight ball without being sticky (you may not need all the water, you may need a little more). Wrap in clingfilm and place in fridge to rest for 30-60 minutes.

Crush the garlic with the thyme and a pinch of rock salt, add to the cream and milk and bring to a simmer. Take off the heat, cover pan with clingfilm, and pierce, leaving to infuse for an hour. Once cooled, pass the liquid into another pan.

Take the rested dough out of the fridge. Pull off pieces about the size of a large marble and wrap each piece around a long wooden skewer. Roll it between your hands to form a tube, about 4cm long. Carefully take out the skewer and place the macaroni on a floured tray. Once you have the required amount of macaroni, blanch them in boiling salted water and olive oil for about eight to 10 minutes.

For the cheese sauce, bring the cream mixture back to a simmer, add the Parmesan and Gruyère and whisk to a smooth consistency. Sauté the mushrooms in a little olive oil and butter, season to taste. Drain the mushrooms and add to the cream. In the same pan, sauté the garlic leaves in a little olive oil and butter with a little rock salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Drain on a paper towel. The macaroni should now be cooked. Strain it well and add to the cream with the wilted garlic leaf.

Finish with tarragon and truffle oil to taste, check seasoning and maybe add lemon juice. Serve and slice the truffle thinly over the macaroni cheese, allowing the warmth of the dish to slightly cook the truffles.

Paul Ainsworth, executive chef, No 6 restaurant, Padstow, Cornwall


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