bare Seasons: February (Northern Hemisphere)
The Game Season is in its last month and the large variety of feathered game that we have enjoyed in the winter months will soon be gone. Furred game of Wild Venison and Wild Rabbit are still readily available and more flavoursome than farmed varieties. Wild Venison makes the richest steaks delicious with sauteed wild mushrooms or with char grilled tiger prawns and sweet chili sauce. Wild rabbit is often very reasonably priced as you are doing the farmers a favour by consuming the pest. When you purchase them don't allow the butcher to chop it up into cooking pieces but take it home and cut it up like you would a chicken, so that you have 2 fillets (cut like the breast) and 2 legs with thighs, the rest of it is good for a stock. The fillets are excellent when they are lightly pan fried or grilled, try wrapping them in Parma ham with sage and pan frying them (see our recipe index for this recipe) or marinate them in a mild tandoori marinade, grill them and serve with pilau rice and riata (grated cucumber, mint and yoghurt). The legs are best cooked by using slow cooking methods such as in a curry, braised , stewed or try confit (see rabbit confit recipe in our index).
Cheaper cuts of meat such as brisket, belly pork and shoulder of lamb, allow for slow cooking. Stews, curries, pot roasts and pies, provide warm comfort food during those cold winter nights.
The winter months offer plenty of seafood. Scallops are at their best in the winter months, delicious grilled a little herb and garlic butter in their shells. British mussels are in season from September to March, eat these tasty sweet morsels now while they are at their peak. Oysters are also better in the colder months, the perfect aphrodisiac for Valantines Day, buy live oysters with shells unbroken and tightly shut, store in refrigerator covered in a wet tea towel for 2-3 days (discard any that open). Mackerel, halibut, dover sole, lemon sole, langoustine, lobsters, clams, haddock and gurnad are all food this month.
Root Vegetable varieties that have been available in the winter months are still good, as are the leafy vegetables such as spring greens and Savoy cabbage. Prepare these in your favourite recipes, roasted root vegetables and steamed greens are always good. Why not try steamed cabbage tossed in butter and julienne Parma ham instead of bacon, as featured with our lamb cutlet recipe.
Leeks are plentiful and good value why not try making a traditional Scottish Cock-a-Leekie or braise them in chicken or vegetable stock.
Citrus Fruit features on supermarket and grocers shelves this month, with most varieties in season. Ruby Orange and Seville Orange are in season with Seville orange season ending halfway through February. Seville orange are a bitter orange uneatable raw, they are the oldest known oranges to the western world they were introduced to the British in the 12th century. Seville oranges make a good accompaniment to duck during cooking and as a sauce.
Rhubarb (forced) is at its best in February with tender pink stems that shouldn't need peeling. Rhubarb is in season now until mid summer but the latter varieties our outdoor grown, they are thicker and greener and will need peeling like celery. The leaves of the rhubarb are poisonous so they are rarely sold with the stems. The flesh of the rhubarb is sour and best cooked with lots of sugar. When cooked with sugar it purees easily making it good for creamy desserts and pies. Rhubarb is also good in savoury dishes such as a lamb stew or as a sauce with duck breast. This month take advantage of the forced rhubarb by preparing one of these seasonal recipes, which include Rhubarb Crumble and Rhubarb Cake.