Our three Great British Chefs share their favourite seasonal autumn ingredients to cook with now
From comforting berry crumbles and tender game roasts to delicious root vegetables and earthy wild mushrooms, the autumn harvest offers some of the best ingredients for warm and comforting dishes. What could be better to get you through the cold snap?
We asked our three Great British Chefs for their five favourite autumnal ingredients to cook with alongside some ideas about how best to use them…
Chantelle Nicholson’s pick of the season…
From New Zealand law student to chef-patron of Tredwells in London, Chantelle Nicholson has risen through the ranks of Marcus Wareing’s restaurant empire. She has set up, run and cooked in some of London’s most popular restaurants and she loves creating healthy and inventive dishes.
“Every year I look forward to sweetcorn season – it’s sweet, nutty and creamy and can be used in so many ways.”
Kitchen tip: Use sweetcorn in a soup, saving the husks to make stock to enhance the sweetcorn flavour. It’s also great just grilled on the barbecue.
2. Kabocha squash
“This is my favourite type of squash as it has a really dense texture, with a wonderfully sweet flavour.”
Kitchen tip: Roast in a hot oven with a little oil, chilli, garlic and salt.
“A member of the hazelnut family, fresh cobnuts are sweet and crunchy. They’re perfectly autumnal and grow in the UK, too.”
Kitchen tip: Make a pesto by whizzing together cobnuts, thyme and parmesan.
“Super versatile for both sweet and savoury dishes, pears are my go-to fruit in autumn.”
Kitchen tip: Roast with butter and honey for a great dessert. Serve with a little Greek yogurt.
“Raw or cooked, celeriac is a fresh ingredient for slaw or alongside other roast vegetables.”
Kitchen tip: Caramelise in a little butter, then blend to make a tasty purée as an alternative to potatoes.
Michael Caines’ pick of the season…
Michael Caines was at the helm of the two-Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park for 21 years and regularly appears on television shows such as Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef. He loves French cuisine and has recently opened his new country house hotel Lympstone Manor.
6. Crown Prince Pumpkin
“Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween – they’re an amazingly versatile veg that’s great for soups, purées, curries and even as a dessert.”
Kitchen tip: To prepare, simply peel the outside skin away, then cut in half and remove the seeds. Dice into large pieces and roast. Pumpkin tastes great with cumin, saffron or a Madras curry mix.
“The versatile cauliflower is having a comeback and can be used in so many different ways, from purées to roast cauliflower ‘steaks’.”
Kitchen tip: Cook cauliflower florets in a stock liquid using shallots, vinegar, honey, thyme, bay leaf and Chinese five-spice for a deep flavour.
“One of my favourite game birds, this makes a special autumn roast lunch. I love serving it with quince purée, chicory and smoked bacon.”
Kitchen tip: Remove the legs and marinate with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and a bay leaf for 8 hours, then wash off and slow-cook until tender. Leave the breasts on the crown with their wishbone removed, and cook in a water bath with thyme, garlic and seasoning. Roast in unsalted butter until golden brown.
9. Autumn berries
“Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are amazing this time of year. I often mix into my porridge or into plain yogurt for breakfast.”
Kitchen tip: Marinate in a little icing sugar with some chopped mint and serve with vanilla ice cream.
10. Cep mushrooms
“These edible wild mushrooms have a firm texture and go well with game, poultry or fish.”
Kitchen tip: Remove the dirt from the feet of the mushrooms, then peel down the stems before washing them gently in a bowl of cold water. To cook, roast them with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Martin Wishart’s pick of the season…
Martin Wishart trained under classical French cuisine masters before returning to his native Edinburgh, where he has four restaurants. Inspired by his surroundings, his seasonally changing menus make the most of Scottish produce such as shellfish and game.
“Parsnips are one of the tastiest root vegetables. Relatively inexpensive and simple to prepare, their aromatic, slightly sweet flesh adds a warm, comforting element to dishes.”
Kitchen tip: Cut lengthways into large batons and roast them slowly with your favourite seasoning.
“Leeks are so versatile and go well with potatoes and cheese to create tasty autumnal side dishes. Leeks also make a great soup – Scotland’s cock-a-leekie and France’s crème vichyssoise are favourites of mine.”
Kitchen tip: Braise in a little chicken stock with garlic and fresh thyme.
“Grouse season starts in August and ends in December. The meat is virtually free of fat and very tender. Look for birds that are plump, with unblemished, fresh-looking deep red skin for an autumn treat.”
Kitchen tip: Roast and serve alongside braised cabbage and root vegetables. Finish with horseradish and a little mustard.
14. Swiss chard
“Chard has large, flat, crinkled green leaves with thick, fleshy white stalks. I love the texture and it has a robust flavour when cooked. It’s basically two vegetables in one as both the leaves and stems can be used.”
Kitchen tip: Cook the leaves with a little olive oil, chopped shallot and garlic. Add the cooked white stalks after or serve them separately.
“Chantarelles are wild mushrooms with a bright orange colour. They grow particularly well in Scotland and I often pick them myself as there are plenty growing close to where I live in East Lothian. Highly prized among chefs, they’re a true foragers’ delight.”
Kitchen tip: Sauté in olive oil with a little garlic and seasoning. Finish with chopped parsley and serve on toasted sourdough for breakfast.