What's in season - November

What's in season: November

by Sally Abé 31 October 2018

The winter months may be upon us but there is still fantastic local produce to be had. Sally Abé gives us a run down of the best of British food to eat this month.

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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.

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark by five o’clock, winter is now approaching fast and the produce available on the shelves is mostly coming from warmer climates abroad. However, there are some British gems hidden amongst the Kenyan green beans and Peruvian asparagus that are worth tracking down.

Jerusalem artichokes are one of winter's great pleasures; roasted or crushed they make a great accompaniment to pork, lamb and beef and they also make a delicious silky soup, pairing especially well with winter's wild mushrooms and truffle. Try Stephen Crane’s simple Jerusalem artichoke soup or Matthew Tomkinson’s Jerusalem artichoke gratin. This funny shaped vegetable is the tuber of the sunflower, not actually part of the artichoke family. It is sometimes referred to as topinambor or sunchoke. Another tuber available at this time of year are tiny crosnes or Japanese artichokes as they are sometimes known. These tiny vegetables are the size of a thimble and are very similar in taste to Jerusalem artichokes.

Another interesting if less common root vegetable is salsify. Often described as having an oyster taste, salsify is a long root normally sold covered in dirt, but once it is washed and the hard skin is peeled away, you are left with a bright white root which is wonderful roasted with a little butter, thyme and garlic. Michael Wignall pairs it with Yorkshire roe deer and black pudding for an autumnal treat and Simon Hulstone rolls it in a smoked salmon and lemon crumb for a slightly unusual flavour combination.

The truffle season is now in full swing and although an unaffordable luxury for most home cooks, look out for them gracing restaurant menus up and down the country. The season begins with pungent white truffles from Alba in Italy, and moves to Perigord in France for black truffles later in the year which have their own distinct ‘petroleum’ aroma and taste.

English apples are great right now and there are many varieties to choose from all over the country so why not try William Drabble’s warming Baked stuffed apples or Marcus Wareing’s Spiced apple crumble slice to see you through a cold evening and impress your friends at the same time.

Although some species are available all year round, the winter months are most commonly associated with the eating of venison. November sees the beginning of the open season for Chinese water deer, a lesser known animal that is very small but has a great subtle gamey flavour, perfect for those who find the strong tasting red deer a little overwhelming. Fallow and Roe deer are also in season from the beginning of November so pop down to your butcher and see what they have available. It’s interesting to try the different species and deer is by far the most sustainable choice for meat eating in this country.

The winter months can be a tough time for fishermen, rough seas and compromised daylight can drive prices up and leave some fish unavailable altogether. Hake is a good option in November; a fish widely popular in Europe it is less well known here in the UK but is a strong meaty white fish and is in more plentiful supply than the overfished cod and haddock. Try Nathan Outlaw’sBaked hake in a mediterranean crust for a simple supper or Geoffrey Smeddle’s Roast hake with chorizo, chickpeas and coriander.