Seasonal eating ideas: Juneby Robert Gooch May 30 2018
May gave us all a chance to rediscover the joy of al fresco cooking and eating with its glorious sunshine. Now that June is here we’re fully up to speed and ready for some new ideas! Get ready for strawberry season, fruity chutneys to pair with barbecued game and picnics, early summer vegetables, and a salty taste of the seaside.
Strawberries and apricots
You can’t beat British strawberries, which are at their best in June. This year’s crop is looking good – visit a PYO farm or farmers’ markets for perfect specimens. Apricots, on the other hand, are not so promising and are expected to have been hard hit by the freezing conditions in February when the trees flowered. Yields in Spain and France are expected to be down too so don’t turn down ripe and juicy Spanish or French apricots if you see them this month!
If you’re looking for an impressive seasonal dinner party dish without a huge list of ingredients, you can’t go wrong with wild venison steaks with balsamic strawberries. For four people, simply mix 200g strawberries, 40g brown sugar and 60ml balsamic vinegar in a bowl and leave to infuse for 2 hours. Season and oil your choice of venison loin steaks (the tenderest venison steak) or haunch steaks (still tender and great value) before frying in a hot pan for 3–4 minutes per side and resting on a warm plate loosely covered in foil. Lower the heat then strain the strawberries and add to the pan until lightly simmering. Stir in a tablespoon of butter to finish then serve over the venison steaks with a seasonal salad.
Fruity chutneys for barbecues and picnics
Now is a great time to start making chutneys, such as Madelene Bonvini-Hamel’s strawberry, lime and almond chutney or Mary Cadogan’s spiced apricot chutney – both of which are ready to eat in just one week. Chutneys like these will serve you well for the entire summer – if not longer. Unopened jars will last for three months or more and are a delicious accompaniment to barbecued meats, including venison steaks, game bird breast fillets, sausages, kebabs and spatchcocked squirrel, while also adding tang to picnic platters and sandwiches made with cold meats.
Peas and broad beans
The first peas of the year are always the sweetest and tastiest. If you’ve grown your own, only pick them when you’re ready to eat them before their sugars turn to starch – the taste is exquisite. Early crop broad beans are also exceptionally sweet if you pick the pods now while they’re still small.
We love Nigel Slater’s grilled pigeon and peas recipe, which can also be cooked on a barbecue. Nigel also has a fantastic simple recipe for early broad beans with grilled lamb and soured cream, which is delicious with our free-range lamb chops.
Like last month, we’re also still eating as much asparagus as we can get our hands on, while the short season lasts! If you’re looking for a new way with asparagus, try serving a broad bean and asparagus salad with barbecued game. The light and fresh flavours are a perfect complement to the rich and deep flavours of venison, wood pigeon and wild boar.
Gardeners around the country will be lifting their first new potatoes of the year this month. For an easy weeknight dinner, boil some early new potatoes while slicing our Spanish wild boar chorizo into 5mm slices and chopping 3 or 4 cloves of garlic. When the potatoes are tender, toss them all in olive oil, season and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Serve with soured cream and chopped coriander and a seasonal salad.
Sea purslane can be foraged on just about any salt marsh or river estuary in the country. Here in Suffolk it can also be found growing in the shingle on the beaches, and its plump leaves provide an incredible taste of the sea. Use raw sea purslane sparingly as a garnish rather than a main ingredient or blanch it to reduce the saltiness. Serve with our sustainable smoked haddock or smoked hot roast salmon and a salad of watercress (wild or grown), chickweed, spinach and/or chervil lightly dressed in olive oil or British cold pressed rapeseed oil.
Share your seasonal dishes
If you’ll be cooking up any of our seasonal ideas or have some wild seasonal recipe ideas of your own, we’d love to see your photos and hear your recommendations! Please share them with us via our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.