What's in season: February

What's in season: February

by Sally Abé 31 January 2019

Don't be tempted to dig your heels in and wait for spring – there's still lots of lovely winter produce available in February. Sally Abé sheds some light on the best.

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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.

As the final month of winter, it’s easy to forget about the present and look to the future, when spring will bring with it fresh, exciting produce. Game season is all but over and everyone is a bit sick of the weather, but in the meantime there’s still an abundance of root vegetables to enjoy while it’s chilly outside.

Celeriac is a firm root vegetable loved by chefs thanks to its complex celery-like nutty flavour. It’s also incredibly versatile as an ingredient – Paul Foster showcases the whole vegetable by baking it in a salt crust, resulting in a very impressive side dish or vegetarian main. Marcello Tully’s Celeriac and blue cheese soup is an ideal warming lunch when it’s cold outside and Kevin Mangeolles Loin of hare, creamed celeriac tart and haunch braised in chocolate beer would make a fantastic rich supper.

Other stars of the show this month are brassicas such as Savoy cabbage and the humble cauliflower, which has become hugely popular as of late (especially when whizzed up and made into a healthier alternative to rice). Lee Wescott’s signature Yeasted cauliflower dish is an unusual starter, or for something more simple try Lisa Allen’s Cauliflower and broccoli fritters.

From further afield, February brings its fair share of tropical fruit; persimmon, pineapple and passion fruit are all at their best right now. Clementines and blood oranges are also ripe for the picking – the perfect way to brighten up a dull, grey-skied day.

When it comes to meat, there’s still a little bit of waiting around for our highly-prized spring lamb, but take a trip to your nearest specialist butcher and you might find some Pyrenean milk-fed lamb on offer – a real delicacy. Xavier Boyer confits a shoulder of this very special meat, made fragrant with plenty of cumin.

Sea bass may not be the most affordable fish on the counter, but it’s often people’s favourite when they eat out at a good restaurant. Recreate a splash out meal at home by cooking Matthew Tomkinson’s Escalope of wild sea bass with bacon, chicory and runner beans, or go Asian with Shaun Hill’s Sea bass with Chinese spice.

Sea bream is a very similar and cheaper fish to bass. It’s also easier to find better specimens for sale and more sustainable. Nathan Outlaw serves his with a mustard and tarragon sauce, while Alan Murchison creates a wonderfully fragrant galangal broth to recreate the flavours of Thailand.

Concluding the list of seasonal fish is the humble anchovy, which tends to divide people despite its incredible ability to pack a dish full of salty, savoury and umami flavours. Whizz them up into a Caesar salad like Tom Aikens, or stud that Pyrenean milk-fed lamb with them alongside some rosemary like Andrew MacKenzie. For something to snack on, Marcello Tully’s Anchovy straws are a great nibble before dinner.