Henley Food Blog: Local & Seasonal  –  Mallard and honey coated carrots and beetroot

I started this blog with a view to writing about seasonal and local products. We are blessed with great produce and fantastic suppliers in this idyllic corner of Oxfordshire. However, the more I write about keeping it local, the more I realise that this needs to be a call to arms for how we shop, not in the future but now. It’s not just the food, we have so many opportunities to use our amazing local suppliers, look at the fabulous Creative Duck team bringing together the creative community in Henley, Tiny Gallery with their emphasis on local artists and Lovibonds, of course, with its beer brewed on our doorstep and with it the creation of a community space playing host to regular events.This week I met with the enterprising and energetic Debbie Robinson to talk over the Home Move Consultants plans to give their clients hampers made up of local goodies (more to come on that one)  and then on to a session of jarring up truffle honey with Nigel and Jo Eddon of Honeys of Henley (who I am delighted to say have invited me to be guest writer for their recipe page on their website). Local people producing, supporting and living local products. How can we develop more sustainable, local working models where we source the majority of our ingredients within a short distance, cut out the plastic wrapping, buy only what is seasonal, support local producers and boost the local economies, not to mention the health benefits of eating pesticide free produce? It’s a mindset we have to get into. We need to adopt a different approach to how we shop, how we eat and how we protect our environment. Supermarkets have made it all too easy for us to eat food from every corner of the world regardless of the season, but ask any nutritionist worth their salt (!) and they will tell you that our bodies need foods that suit our immediate environment, hearty local warming root vegetables in winter, not cold leafy salads from a greenhouse in Spain. I shall stop ranting now, but there is more to come.

My recipe this week reflects the abundance of goodness that exists all within a few miles of my front door. Locally sourced Mallard sold from Machins, coated with Honeys of Henley bees, and vegetables sourced, from the fabulous people at Greenshoots, where adults with learning difficulties are able to receive horticultural therapy, growing and selling seasonal produce. A fantastic enterprise.

Spiced Mallard with honey roast carrots and beetroot, on a bed of chard. (serves 2)

Ingredients

For the Mallard
1 medium sized mallard
1 tbsp Fennel Seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp peppercorns

For the vegetables:
350g carrots (I got lucky with these coloured charentay carrots) cleaned
4 medium sized beetroot. Peeled and quartered
2 tbsps of local honey
1tbsp cumin seeds
couple of pinches of chilli flakes

For the chard
6/8 large leaves, stripped of the hard rib (I’ve kept these for a stir fry)
Juice of a half a lemon
zest of a lemon
large knob of butter

For the ‘gravy’
1 carrot diced
1 shallot chopped
1 stick of celery diced
300ml of chicken stock
100ml of Madeira or similar

Method

  1. Start by combing your carrots, beetroots, honey cumin and chilli in a large roasting pan.
  2. Place them in an oven (180c) for 40 mins.
  3. Brown your mallard all over in a hot pan, don’t take too long over this, just a nice colour all over
  4. Blitz the fennel, corianders and pepper together.
  5. Coat the mallard with honey and sprinkle your spice all over.
  6. Place into the hot oven for approx 20 mins
  7. Now make your gravy.
  8. Fry the carrot, celery and shallot together in a little olive oil
  9. When soft add the stock.
  10. Reduce this down then add the maderia
  11. Continue to let this reduce.
  12. Strain the veg and reduce once more until you have a glossy thickened gravy.
  13. Remove mallard and let it rest for 15 minutes (it will be bloody, if you’d rather not have that look, roast for another 10).
  14. Wash the chard but leave the water on the leaves, this is enough for the cooking process.
  15. Place into a large hot pan (I use a wok), add a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  16. Check the veg are now soft and a little gnarly.
  17. Take the breasts off the mallard crown (I keep the carcass for stock)
  18. Plate up with the chard first, followed by sliced breasts, with veg scattered around.
  19. Add the gravy to your liking.

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