Our Masterchef, Duncan McKay, unearths some local treats

PUBLISHED: 13:24 22 October 2010 | UPDATED: 18:03 20 February 2013

Our Masterchef, Duncan McKay, unearths some local treats

Our Masterchef, Duncan McKay, unearths some local treats

November can appear to be a bit of a sparse month when it comes to local produce, but if you speak to your fishmonger, greengrocer and butcher you'll find that there is plenty to choose from.

Its hard to believe that winter is already on the horizon theres definitely a chill in the air.
Our menus at Bannatynes Charlton House have been gradually evolving to adapt to the changing season. November can appear to be a bit of a sparse month when it comes to local produce, but if you speak to your fishmonger, greengrocer and butcher youll find that there is plenty to choose from.
I have discovered some of the local cheeses recently, not just cheddars, but blues, camembert and goats cheeses that are all reaching their perfect ripeness and definitely worth looking out for.
This month I have chosen to go for game as a starter. Wood pigeons are really plump at the moment and if you cook them pink they are very tender; serving them on slowly braised pearl barley has proved a great success on our menu.
As there is such a great variety of fish coming into the local markets at the moment, deciding which to pick for a main course proved too difficult, so I selected a mix of the best, cooking it in a French-style casserole.
A bouillabaisse should be rich and aromatic, full of rich flavours, with the fish added at the last minute so as not to loose the individual flavour of each.


Breast of wood pigeon, Somerset bacon, braised pearl barley, port jus

Serves 4

2 whole wood pigeon, breast removed, skin removed and bones and legs kept for stock
4 slices streaky bacon
100g pearl barley
1 carrot
leek, white only
1 stick celery
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
200ml chicken stock
200ml reduced beef stock
50ml port
1 tsp redcurrant jelly

1 Care should be taken when cooking with game bird as sometimes they may contain a couple of pellets. A quick check for holes in the breast is usually enough to find them.
2 For the braised pearl barley, finely dice the vegetables and saut in a little hot oil until they start to colour, add the herbs, barley and chicken stock.
3 Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. After 15 minutes, most of the stock should be reduced and the barley will be tender. Season and keep warm.

To make the sauce:
1 Place the bones, legs and beef stock into a pot. Simmer for 20 minutes to get the flavour of the pigeon then strain through a sieve into another saucepan.
2 Add the port and redcurrant jelly, then reduce until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

For the pigeon breasts:
1 First of all wrap them in bacon. On a chopping board flatten out the slices of bacon with the back of a heavy knife, place a pigeon breast onto the bacon and roll up, making sure the pigeon is covered to keep in the moisture.
2 Heat a heavy-based frying pan with a little oil until the oil begins to smoke. Next, place the pigeon breast in the pan and turn after a minute, making sure all sides have been coloured.
3 Place in a pre-heated oven at 170C for six minutes; remove, then rest for three minutes before cutting.

To serve:
Spoon the barley onto the centre of a warm plate, diagonally cut the pigeon and place on the barley cut-side up. Spoon over some of the port sauce and garnish with a sprig of herbs


Bouillabaisse of market fish

Serves 4

600g fish fillet from the following; mackerel, John Dory, conger eel, hake, grey mullet, halibut, brill
20 mussels
20 surf clams
50ml olive oil
2 sea bream fillets, halved
4 raw king prawns
2 onions
4 celery sticks
2 carrots
1 fennel
5 garlic cloves
2 orange
10 plum tomatoes
1ltr fish stock
2 star anis
50ml Pernod or pastis
1 bunch of spring onion
20g parsley, chopped

1 Cut the fish fillets into 2cm chunks and refrigerate. Wash the mussels and clams, making sure you remove all the hairy bits from the mussels.
2 Peel and roughly chop all the vegetables and place them in a large pot with the olive oil and gently sweat off until the vegetables begin to soften, add fish stock, star anise, diced tomato and Pernod.
3 Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour to let all the flavours develop. Remove from heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth, season and adjust consistency if required. Add the diced fish and place back on a low heat.

For the sea bream and prawns:
Heat a frying pan with a splash of oil, season the fish and prawns and cook on each side for two minutes, remove from pan and set aside.

To serve:

Spoon the seafood broth into a large shallow bowl, arranging the fish in the middle, sprinkle with sliced spring onion and parsley. Place the sea bream and prawn on top of the other fish. Serve with buttered potatoes and crusty bread.


Chocolate and Cointreau pav with mandarin compte

Serves 4

300g very dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
250g caster sugar
80ml Cointreau
500ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
500ml fresh orange juice
100g fresh mandarin segments
30g glucose syrup


1 It is best to make the pav the day before serving as it will need to set. Place the chopped chocolate in a metal bowl and melt over a bowl of boiling water. Remove and allow to cool. In another bowl whisk up the eggs, Cointreau and sugar over boiling water until it fluffs up.
2 Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate, being very gentle so as not to lose any of the volume. Once smooth, slowly add the cream in the same way. While the mixture is still soft pour into moulds; we use rings in the kitchen, but wine glasses or ramekins would do just as well.

For the mandarin compte:
The mandarin compte provides a sharp contrast to the chocolate and is easy to make
1 Bring the orange juice to the boil and reduce to a third of the volume. Add the glucose syrup and stir to dissolve, remove from heat and allow to cool.
2 Remove any pith from the mandarin segments, roughly dice and add to the orange syrup.

To serve:
Remove pav from the mould and place on a cool plate, then generously spoon on the compte.

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