Welcome to autumn – seasonal fayre
Saying so long to summer can be a pleasure with autumn’s old treasures and rising stars.
When we think of autumn, we often return to the same old comforts – feeling a nip in the air, collecting conkers, baking blackberry crumbles and carving Jack O’Lanterns.
Just conjuring them up helps us get over the fact that summer’s well and truly over. The approach of autumn might mean heading back to the real world of busy work and school schedules, but regardless of the nights drawing in and the weather turning, 44 Foods loves this time of year.
When it comes to stocking up the larder with seasonal delights, there’s no time quite so plentiful and versatile. Autumn takes us from the last of the broad beans and tomatoes, right through to hearty leeks, cauliflowers and turnips. You can spoil yourself with all the different colours, textures and flavours to choose from.
And it’s not all about the old treasures either. We’re excited by autumn produce because there’s so much more to discover beyond traditional apples, sweetcorn or swede. To spread our enthusiasm for the season, we’d like to introduce you to some of our favourite rising stars: the more unusual seasonal varieties that we can’t wait to sample this autumn.
What is it?
Originally from Southern Europe, fennel has a gentle liquorice flavour. Both the bulb and the seeds have many health properties and one cup of the raw bulb provides 8% of your daily recommended potassium and 12% of vitamin C.
How to enjoy it
When raw, fennel has a lovely sweet crunch that goes very well with orange in a salad. Or try it roasted as an accompaniment to fish or pork.
You can eat use the frond-like leaves as a herb to add a fresh, slightly aniseed flavour to sauces and soups or as a feathery garnish.
What are they?
We’ve all heard of plums, but there are so many varieties that they’re not always easy to recognise. Less common than nectarines or peaches, which usually hail from further afield, British plums are just as sweet and juicy.
What are they?
A cross between a shallot and an onion, this variety of shallot is named because of its size (not its flavour, thank goodness!).
Because banana shallots are large and have a smooth skin, they’re easier to prepare than other varieties.
How to enjoy them
Shallots have a more delicate flavour than their onion cousins, so they work well raw in salads or salsas. They’re also lovely added whole or halved to classic French dishes like Coq au vin or this recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.
Boeuf Bourguignon with banana shallots
Total cooking time: 3 hours 40 minutes
- 5kg beef stewing steak cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 125g bacon, cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 350ml French red wine (use Burgundy for maximum authenticity)
- 350ml chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 100g banana shallots, halved
- Flat leaf parsley to garnish
- Preheat oven to 120 C / Gas 1. Place the beef in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Fry bacon in a large pan over a medium heat until golden brown. Separate the bacon and the bacon fat and keep both aside for later.
- Place an oven proof dish on the hob, turn to a high heat and heat 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in it. Sear half of the beef on all sides for about 5 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan and repeat with two more tablespoons of bacon fat and the second batch of beef.
- Fry the onions in the same dish with the beef removed until soft. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds. Stir in the flour, reduce the heat and keep stirring for another 1-2 minutes, until the flour starts to colour.
- Now add the wine and scrape the bottom of the dish well. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme and increase the temperature slightly to bring to a simmer. Add the beef and the bacon and bring to a simmer again (but do not let it boil). Cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 2 to 2.5 hours.
- Heat 1 tablespoon bacon fat in a frying pan and fry the shallots for 5-10 minutes until they are tender and lightly browned. Don’t stir too much, to avoid breaking them apart.
- When the beef is almost done, add the shallots and bay leaves. Once again, cover and braise for another 20-30 minutes in the oven. Stir in the parsley and sprinkle some more on top to garnish. If needed, add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with mashed potato and celeriac and autumn greens.