THERE’S nothing better than food from small-scale artisan producers, writes chef Neil Forbes, as he shares three recipes using some of the best produce from around the UK.
I love supporting the small-scale artisan producer and showcasing their products on my menus; it’s just good food. The Slow Food movement bases its philosophy on three words – good, clean, fair. Three words that ring in my ears when I’m choosing what to buy for the restaurant, and at home. For those who don’t know Slow Food, it believes we should all have access to food that’s good for us, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet. Slow Food for me as a chef means caring about what I give others to eat.
Slow Food UK has also established a Forgotten Foods programme to raise awareness of those small-scale artisan products that face extinction at the hands of industrial agriculture and excessive legislation. If we lose these foods, we also lose centuries of expert knowledge and cultural traditions. So it’s vital we keep buying, ordering, and eating these products. In Slow Food Week recently, we hosted a supper at Cafe St Honore to highlight some Forgotten Foods, in particular Keen’s Cheddar, Tamworth pork and Yorkshire rhubarb, so I’m sharing the recipes for those dishes with you.
CLYDE VALLEY TOMATO AND KEEN’S CHEDDAR TART WITH ENGLISH WATERCRESS
The start of our tomato season is well upon us. I buy mine from Clyde Valley Tomatoes who have revived the Scottish tomato-growing tradition with old and new varieties. Keen’s – a fully-matured cow’s milk cheese from Somerset – is rich and zingy. Its almost sweet taste is perfect for the pastry.
• a few wild garlic leaves
• 100ml rapeseed oil
• a small handful of hazelnuts, toasted
• sea salt and pepper
• 4 discs or rectangles of puff pastry about 10cm x 5cm
• 1 egg yolk
• 4 large Clyde Valley vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
• 4 slices of Keen’s Cheddar
• a handful of English watercress
Make a wild garlic oil by liquidizing the wild garlic, oil, hazelnuts and a pinch of salt and one of pepper. Set to one side.
Meanwhile, place the pastry on a sheet of greaseproof paper and brush with the egg yolk. Bake at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Brush the pastry with a little of the wild garlic oil and place the sliced tomatoes on top. Season with salt and pepper and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more of the oil. Then crumble the cheese on top and serve with a handful of English watercress.
PEELHAM FARM TAMWORTH PORK BELLY, PEELHAM CHORIZO, APPLE AND SHETLAND BLACK POTATOES
The Tamworth or “ginger pig” as it’s fondly known, is a cracking breed. Descended from wild boar stock they date back to the Iron Age and are our oldest domestic breed. The flavour is incredible, and they’re not too fatty. A perfect partner for the pork is Chris and Denise Walton’s Peelham Farm Tamworth chorizo. They have spent years perfecting it. Shetland black tatties are not so well-known, but delicious. Just remember to leave the skin on.
• half a Peelham Farm Tamworth pork belly (around 1kg) – skin off, bone off, rolled and tied
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 stick of celery, chopped
• a few peppercorns
• 1 bay leaf
• veg stock or water, enough to cover the pork
• 50ml rapeseed oil
• sea salt and pepper
• 1 stick Peelham Farm chorizo, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1kg Shetland black potatoes, scrubbed, par-boiled and large-diced
• 1 red apple, sliced (I like the organic Falstaff variety)
• 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
Place the belly in a deep tray or a large pot with the carrot, onion, celery, peppercorns and bay leaf. Cover with water or veg stock.
Bring to a simmer on the hob, then braise in an oven at 150C/Gas Mark 2 for 3 to 4 hours until it is tender and soft.
Allow to cool, then remove the pork from the liquor, wrap it tightly in cling film and refrigerate overnight if possible. Then slice it into 1-inch thick slices.
Fry the slices in a hot pan with the rapeseed oil until golden on both sides. Season and remove from the pan. Keep warm.
In the same pan, heat the chorizo and potato, tossing the pan as you go. Add the apple, then the spring onions until all are cooked. Season if needed and serve with the pork belly
FORCED YORKSHIRE RHUBARB AND ALMOND TART
The Oldroyd family has been harvesting this wonderful vegetable for generations. I’m using it in a classic frangipane recipe that you can serve with whatever you fancy. Custard, cream, ice-cream or all three.
Makes one 12-inch tart
• 400g Yorkshire rhubarb
• 150g caster sugar
• zest of 1 orange
• 340g icing sugar
• 360g unsalted butter
• 400g plain flour, sifted
• 250g ground almonds
• 6½ eggs
Give the rhubarb a wash and remove any leaves. Cut into 1 inch pieces and place on a baking tray with the caster sugar and orange zest. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 170C/Gas Mark 3 until just soft. Allow to cool. Drain.
To make the sweet paste, cream 90g of icing sugar with 110g of melted butter before adding 1½ eggs. Then combine with 300g of sifted plain flour. Let it rest before rolling it to line the 12-inch tart shell. The paste should be thin and trimmed around the edge. Let it rest further.
To make the frangipane, cream 250g butter and 250g icing sugar. Add the almonds, 100g plain flour and incorporate 5 eggs, one at a time.
To assemble, smear a dollop of frangipane over the tart base, followed by a large handful of the drained rhubarb, then fill the tart with the remaining frangipane, smoothing the top with a palette knife. Bake at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 1 hour and 20 minutes and the pastry is golden. Serve warm.