What's in season: October

by Sally Abé 1 October 2018

With autumn officially underway, Sally Abé takes us through the changing colour palette of seasonal ingredients to look forward to in October. From wild mushrooms to colourful root vegetables, discover the produce we're getting excited about this month.

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 last few weeks might have felt like an Indian summer, but the produce coming into season now we’ve reached October most definitely nods to the coming winter months. Root vegetables are now out in force, destined for soups and casseroles as the nights draw in, and the colour palette has moved from summery greens and reds to deep purple, orange and brown.

There are now numerous varieties of pumpkins and squashes available in the shops, in a vibrant display of colour. We are all familiar with butternut squash, but why not try a crown prince, viola, Turk’s turban or even a giant pink banana (really!) for something a little different?

Heritage carrots have been a favourite on restaurant menus for the last few years and are now making appearances in the supermarkets in an array of colours. As well as brightening up the dinner table, they also bring a lovely, sweet taste to any dish they’re used in. Remember, purple, yellow and white carrots have been around somewhat 200 years longer than the humble orange carrot and we think they deserve equal place on your plate.

October also sees the height of the wild mushroom season – girolles, chanterelles and the striking trompettes de la mort are some of the most abundant. While these can often come with a hefty price tag, the flavour is incredible. For a filling supper try Galton Blackiston’s Risotto Milanese with wild mushrooms, or opt for an unusual showstopper main at your next dinner party with Paul A Young’s savoury mille feuille, pairing mixed wild mushrooms with rich dark chocolate.

Soft fruit starts to wind down in October, although the last of the blackberries could still be hanging around for a few final crumbles! Instead, the colder months are when we look to apples, quinces and pears for dessert inspiration; French red Williams pears are at their very best right now, sweet juicy and delicious, perfect for poaching. Try Adam Gray’s Spiced poached pears with hot chocolate sauce for an elegant autumnal dessert, or the Galvin brothers’ golden Tarte Tatin served with Calvados-laced crème Normande.

Mussels are fantastic in the autumn months and are also one of, if not the most sustainable shellfish in the sea, taking just 12 months to reach maturity – just remember to always buy rope or pole grown mussels as dredging damages the sea bed. Mussel broth, served with chips of crusty bread, hold similar comforting qualities to soup, or remove them from their shells and pair with linguine, chorizo and shallots as Shaun Rankin does in his delicious seafood pasta recipe.

The beginning of October sees the final game birds become available, including pheasant and woodcock. The latter is difficult to get hold of but is worth hunting down. A very small bird which can be eaten guts-and-all, what the woodcock lacks in size it certainly makes up for in flavour and is a real treat this time of year.