The deciduous trees are on the verge of shedding all their leaves but not without a last flash of riotous colour. Golden yellows, burnt crisp oranges and red, the colour of an old Shiraz are everywhere. This is the residue of seasonal colour before descending into the bareness of winter.
The days are shortening. It’s November. Some days the sun is defiant, resisting the call of winter; other days, it appears to have just given up.
With such seasonal thoughts, my mind has thinking of wild things.
At our local farmers market, there has much to choose from – pheasant, mallard, guinea fowl as well as the last of the berries, new cabbages and broccoli, marrows and gourds.
Everything needed for an autumnal feast.
Roast Mallard with blackberries and seasonal vegetables
(Adapted from a recipe from Mark Hix)
1 small onion
2 sticks of celery stalks
A few springs of thyme
A little butter
1 glass of red wine
½ teaspoon of redcurrant jelly
500ml chicken stock
½ punnet of blackberries
1 golden gourd
1 bunch of purple broccoli
Preheat oven to 230C. Rub the mallard with butter and season. Place in roasting tray with onion, carrot and celery diced beneath with thyme. Cook for 30 minutes and then remove bird from tray and let it stand.
To make gravy, add ½ of a tablespoon to the roast dish. Add wine and jelly, and then gradually the stock for 10 minutes. Using a sieve, strain the gravy and then add blackberries, returning the gravy to the heat to thicken.
For vegetables, cut the gourd into crescent pieces and roast. Once removed from oven, mix through a dessert spoon of honey. As for broccoli, blanche in boiling salted water for two minutes, before cooking in olive oil favoured with garlic. The broccoli will fade into a soft lavender colour.
Serve mallard with blackberry gravy and seasonal vegetables, decorated with left over blackberries.
Turn the heater on and enjoy the beginning of the winter season.