Match of the day: Mark Hix serves up meat and fish with the foodstuffs they eat
Our resident chef has come up with some novel pairings.
We often don't think about serving meat or fish alongside the ingredients these creatures actually eat, but it would make for a great talking point at a dinner party – although you may get a bit stuck on dessert, unless you match up a couple of ingredients like I have done here, where the bees may well have used the pollen from a particular fruit to make the honey.
I've devised a menu using this idea, but you could also come up with your own set of matching ingredients.
Sea bass with mussels and prawns
Sea bass feed on small shellfish and molluscs on the sea bed. Try to buy small mussels so they don't take over the plate – and if you buy good-quality prawns, you can use the shells and heads for a bisque. Otherwise, use whole brown shrimps and serve them in the shells.
4 x 120-140g portions of sea bass fillet, bones removed and scaled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 or so small mussels, de-bearded and washed
½ glass of cider
20-24 medium-sized prawns, peeled
½ a lemon
1tbsp chopped parsley
Heat some oil in a heavy or non-stick frying pan, season the sea bass and fry it, skin side down first, for 2-3 minutes on each side. Put the mussels in a pan with the cider, and cook on a high heat with a lid on for a couple of minutes (shaking them occasionally), until they all open. Strain off the cider into another pan and reduce on a high heat until almost evaporated, then whisk in the butter, add the prawns, a squeeze of lemon to taste and the parsley; season if necessary.
To serve, place the sea bass on to warmed serving plates with the skin side up, scatter the mussels on top and spoon the prawns and sauce over.
Grouse with blaeberries
As grouse is such a crazy price at the beginning of the season, half a grouse is a cost-effective way to serve it as a starter or middle course. Grouse feed actively on the young gorse shoots and wild blaeberries that grow on the banks of grouse moors. If you can't find the latter, then you could use small cultivated blueberries or even elderberries.
2 young oven-ready grouse, preferably with their giblets
A few leaves of sage
A good knob of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ a glass, or 150ml, of port
4 slices of toast from a small bloomer type loaf, or a large baguette
50g or so of blaeberries
Preheat the oven to 240C/gas mark 8. Season the grouse, rub with butter and put the sage leaves inside the birds. Roast with the giblets in for 12-15 minutes, basting the breasts as they are cooking, then leave to rest. Next, remove the legs, scoop out the giblets and discard the sage. Remove the meat from the legs and finely chop with the giblets. Pour the port into the cooking pan and stir on a low heat to remove any residue in the pan. Transfer to a small bowl; add the blaeberries.
Toast the bread and spread with the chopped leg and giblets. Remove the breasts from the grouse and slice into 6 pieces; arrange on the toast. Spoon over the blaeberries and garnish with salad leaves if you like.
Rump of salt marsh lamb with samphire patties
Some of the best-tasting lambs are the lucky beasts that are left to roam on the seashore and feed on all of the wild plants that thrive along our coastline. If your butcher can't cut you rumps of lamb, then a best end will do.
2 rumps of lamb, boned and weighing about 180-200g each
A tablespoon of vegetable or corn oil
150g of samphire with any woody ends removed
80g self-raising flour
1 small egg, beaten
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
Salt and cayenne pepper
Olive oil for frying
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Season the lamb, heat an oven tray or oven-proof frying pan on the stove with a little vegetable oil and brown the lamb nicely on all sides; then place in the oven and roast for about 12-15 minutes, keeping it nice and pink. Leave on a plate to rest.
Meanwhile, boil up a pan of water and blanch the samphire for 20 seconds; drain, run under the cold tap and dry on kitchen paper.f
Mix the egg and flour in a bowl and add enough milk to form a thick, pouring-consistency batter. Mix in two-thirds of the samphire and spring onion and season with the salt and cayenne pepper.
Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy or non-stick frying pan and drop in a couple of spoonfuls, or quarter of the mix at a time, of the batter to form patties. Cook them on a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side, until crisp; remove and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, then re-heat in the oven or under the grill.
To serve, place the patty in the centre of warmed serving plates, slice the lamb and arrange on top and quickly toss the rest of the samphire in a pan in a little olive oil and scatter on top.
Loganberries with honeyed Westcombe ricotta
I'm always dubious of British cheese-makers replicating something another country is famous for, but this ricotta – from a dairy in Somerset – is damn good. Here, the blossom from the fruits would obviously attract the bees to make honey. If you can't get hold of loganberries, any berries will work.
250-300g ricotta at room temperature
4-6tbsp clear honey, preferably a blossom honey
150-200g loganberries, tayberries or raspberries
Spoon the ricotta on to serving plates, scatter the loganberries over and drizzle on the honey.
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