The first thing you’ll notice at a farmers market like Borough Market during the fall is the colors, which echo the seasonal leaves on the ground and tell us we’re stepping into warm, comforting, and utterly delicious cuisine.
Enter: pumpkins, squashes, mushrooms, game birds such as grouse, pigeon, or duck, perhaps some partridges and pheasants, pork at the beginning of the season, and an abundance of apples, pears, and figs. You will want to take more than one bag with you…
Once you’ve stocked up on seasonal treats, it’s time to hit the kitchen – these recipes by Ed Smith, Angela Clutton, and Hayden Groves are the perfect way to welcome fall into your repertoire.
Delicate Roasted Pumpkin with Crispy Sage, Seeds, and Cottage Cheese
it suits: 4 as a starter, six as a side
Setup time: 5 minutes | time to cook: 35-40 minutes
The Delica pumpkin is a stubby, greenish-gray pumpkin. Beneath the skin is a dense, vivid orange flesh that is intensely sweet, buttery, and reminiscent of cooked chestnuts. Some people (well, me) consider it the most prized of zucchini, and it’s excellent when roasted with sage, sprinkled with its roasted seeds, and slippery with sheep’s or goat’s curd. It’s a perfect starter in its own right, though it’s also a powerful accompaniment to a feast or buffet.
1–1.2 kg delicate pumpkin (or other pumpkin or squash)
Six tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2-3 teaspoons Aleppo chili flakes (pul biber)
20-24 sage leaves
150g sheep or goat curd (or Greek yogurt)
Preheat the oven to 220C. Wipe the squash or squash with a damp cloth to remove any dirt, then cut it in half from top to bottom with a large, sharp knife. Scoop the seeds with a spoon and spread them on a small baking sheet.
Drizzle one tablespoon of rapeseed oil over the top and mix with a fork, scraping and discarding the fibers. Bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove from oven, season generously with sea salt and 1 tsp Aleppo pepper, and set aside.
Cut the pumpkin halves into 3-4 cm thick slices, leaving the skin. Place in a bowl with four tablespoons of rapeseed oil and toss until glossy, then spread on a large or low baking sheet, preferably in a single layer—Bake near the top of the oven for 20 minutes.
Mix the sage leaves with one tablespoon of rapeseed oil, and when the squash has been cooking for 20 minutes, carefully turn the slices over and spread the sage under and around them. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the squash is tender and golden around the edges and the sage leaves are crispy.
Stack the pumpkin pieces on a platter or individual plates. Dot the curd and enter. Add the crispy sage and sprinkle with the toasted seeds, remaining Aleppo pepper, and a final sip of rapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil.
Recipe: Ed Smith
Images: Kim Lightbody
Roasted pork loin with fig and walnut filling
it suits: 6
This is a very special pork skewer, with crackling worthy of a party in its own right. The tenderloin’s rich fig and nut filling are sliced with vinegar – try De Calabria’s sweet honey vinegar. The stuffing is packed inside the joint before you tie it, but don’t worry if any oozes out during cooking – it’ll nestle between the bed of fennel and onion (tossed in vinegar to extract maximum flavor) that the joint stuffing is roasted in a pan.
½ leek, trimmed and chopped
180g fresh figs, roughly chopped
1 ½ tablespoons chopped lemongrass
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder
Zest of 1 orange
125ml cider vinegar or honey vinegar
20g dry breadcrumbs (not panko)
2kg boneless pork loin (ask the butcher to cut the loin under the eye to create a flap for the stuffing)
One large fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
Two onions, coarsely chopped
Three garlic cloves, crushed
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the leeks until soft. Add the figs, lemon balm, walnuts, cinnamon, orange zest, 75ml of vinegar, and the breadcrumbs. Season well.
Open the loin skin side and fill the opening with the fig mixture. Don’t put too much in – you want to be able to close it tight when tying.
Cut at least six times the length of the joint on the kitchen string. Pass the column under the common at one end, round to the stuffing seam, and tie a knot, leaving a short lot of the series (about 7-8cm) and a very long future. Pull the long end 2 cm to the side of the knot, hold it with your finger, pass the rope under the joint, then bring it to where your finger is and give the long end under the string you are holding to form a node. Keep going along the joint to tie it.
When you reach the end, turn the joint over, run the string along the center of the tied joint and tie with the short end, you left at the beginning. You should – I hope – have a tight loin.
Heat the oven to 150C. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan suitable for oven and stovetop. Place the pork loin, fat side down, in the oil and cook for a few minutes to brown. Turn it over and seal the bottom, then remove and set aside. Add the fennel, onion, and garlic to the hot fat and let it start to soften but not color. Pour over the remaining vinegar, season, stir and place the joint on top with the fat. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, increase the oven temperature to 200C. Remove the lid and sprinkle salt flakes over the supposed crackling. Let it finish on high heat for 30 minutes and remove it from the oven. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes, lift the joint and carve. The fennel and onion mixture in the bottom of the pan (there won’t be much left over, but it’s delicious) can be placed in a serving bowl.
If the joint is difficult to carve with the snap, you can cut the string, remove the picture and serve it on the side for people to help themselves – then carve.
Recipe: Angela Clutton
Images: Kim Lightbody
Quince and Coconut Crumble
it suits: 4-6
For the filling:
Three large quinces
125g brown sugar
Two bay leaves
½ cinnamon stick
One passion fruit apple
To break it down:
200g of butter
300g plain flour
A good handful of rolled oats
150g light brown sugar
75g peeled and broken cobnuts
Peel the quince and cut it in 8. Remove the core and place the slices in a refractory that fits in the oven. Spread over the icing sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon, and 250ml water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour at 170°C.
In the meantime, make the topping. Rub the butter and flour between your hands until it looks like a thick crumb. Add the oats, light brown sugar, and walnuts, and mix well.
When the quince has 1 hour, remove the foil (beware of steam). Peel and grate the Bramley apple and mix in the quince.
Heat the oven to 190C. Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden and the mixture is cooked.
Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, as sticky fruit juices are hot and have a habit of burning the roof of your mouth (as I’ve found many times in my rush for a spoonful).
Eat it with a large amount of very thick cream or your favorite cream – or why not both?