What's in season – April

What's in season: April

by Sally Abé 28 March 2018

Sally Abé introduces the bounty of British spring, with all the asparagus, morels, potatoes and lamb we could ask for.

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After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

When Sally came to London to cook as part of her culinary arts degree, she never went back to college in Sheffield.

Sally began her career at the Savoy Grill, before moving on to a two year stint at Gordon Ramsay's Claridges restaurant. After this, she spent five years at two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury as sous chef.

Sally is now the head chef at the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms in London, where she makes the most of Britain's fantastic game meat and seasonal produce.

It’s official – spring has sprung, the clocks have changed and the weather is (fingers crossed) finally starting to warm up. With this warmth comes shoots, sprouts and a flourish of exciting ingredients bursting from the shelves.

April must be best known in the UK for heralding in the asparagus season. The official start is 27 April, but it’s already available from farmers’ markets. It’s one of the truly great British ingredients – try Colin McGurran’s Chicken with wild garlic and asparagus or Emily Watkins’ beautiful Organic asparagus and hollandaise tart to make the most of the fleeting season, which only lasts until June.

Another short season in April is that of the highly revered morel, considered by chefs to be the king of all mushrooms. They come with a pretty hefty price tag, so it’s always best to ensure they’re the star of the show. William Drabble pairs his wild morels with chicken wings, gnocchi and asparagus, keeping things super seasonal, as does Matthew Tomkinson, with his dish of Wild halibut, morels, wild garlic and Jersey Royals.

The last – but by no means least – vegetable to appear this month is the Jersey Royal. This little potato’s incredible flavour is thanks to the unique growing conditions on the island of Jersey, which are so special the tubers now enjoy PDO protection. Serve them as a salad like Dominic Chapman, who dresses them with spring onions and aioli, or Shaun Rankin’s Warm salad of Jersey Royals with goat’s cheese, pine nuts and fresh figs.

Of course, it makes sense that asparagus, morels and Jersey Royals are a match made in heaven – just add a poached egg to the mix and you have a dish fit for a king.

When it comes to fruit we are still a month or two away from the abundance of British berries, but the first of the prized Gariguette strawberries are making their way across the channel from France along with the smaller, sweeter Mara des Bois. These varieties have an incredible flavour, overshadowing the greenhouse-grown, mass-produced fluff sold in the supermarkets. Matt Worswick’s Gariguette strawberries and vanilla parfait showcases the flavour of the variety perfectly, while Stephen Crane eagerly welcomes the warm weather with his Strawberry sorbet.

The forced rhubarb season is coming to a close this month but it won’t be long before the greener outdoor variety becomes available, which is better for jams and chutneys than the vibrant pink stalks of winter. Tom Aikens’ Rhubarb fool is perfect for making the most of this classic British fruit.

Spring lamb also arrives this month, but prices will be high as everyone rushes to get their hands on this delicate meat (our lamb collection has every recipe you’ll ever need). And, while it may be hard to come across in the supermarket, ask you butcher to track down some muntjac and you’ll be in for a treat. This tiny deer is available all year round and makes a great alternative to beef – it’s also a good sustainable option.