Mussels, partridge and pear: recipes for an autumnal French feast | Henry Harris

Starter: mussels with cider, creme fraiche and spring onions

Normans and Bretons are blessed with nice shellfish and apples, and the latter, fermented into cider, make an awesome match for mussels, each for cooking and for consuming alongside. The mild tannins of French ‘brut’ (dry) cider are the important thing to success right here. When shopping for mussels, they need to have a recent, briny aroma, be glistening and firmly closed; there’ll inevitably be the odd damaged or open one, which you could throw away. Preparation past that’s easy: simply tug out the “beard” (the little furry tuft or strands that stick out of the shell). A big pan with a close-fitting lid can be important right here..



Henry Harris’ mussels with cider, creme fraiche and spring onions. Photograph: The Guardian

Prep 10 min
Prepare dinner 15 min
Serves Four (or 2 as a essential, with frîtes)

Four-6 spring onions, trimmed and minimize in half widthways, to separate white and inexperienced elements
50g unsalted butter
Salt and black pepper
350ml Breton or Normandy ‘brut’ cider
2kg mussels, cleaned
100g creme fraiche
2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
1 loaf sourdough bread

Lower the spring onion whites at an angle, and finely chop the inexperienced items, a lot as you’d chives.

In a big casserole or saucepan, soften the butter and add the sliced spring onion whites. Season generously with pepper and cook dinner over a delicate warmth for 2 minutes, or till comfortable. Add the cider, deliver to a boil and cook dinner for 2 minutes extra.

Stir within the mussels and creme fraiche, and seal the pot with the lid. Prepare dinner for 3 to 5 minutes, giving the pan rattle each minute. After three minutes, examine repeatedly – when all of the mussels have popped open and look vibrant and juicy, flip off the warmth (don’t depart them too lengthy, as they’re liable to shrivelling, and discard any that keep shut).

Whereas the mussels are cooking, minimize 4 thick slices from the loaf and toast them.

Utilizing a slotted spoon, carry the mussels from the pan into two massive bowls. Convey the cooking liquor to a boil, add the chopped spring onion greens and parsley, and cook dinner for 30 seconds. In case you desire a creamier mussel liquor, whisk in some extra creme fraiche. Pour the liquor over the mussels and serve right away with the toast

Primary course: roast partridge and spiced blackberries

Partridges want mild cooking, in any other case they’ll go a little bit dry. Many a wild hen could have consumed blackberries from the hedgerows in the course of the late summer time months, in order that they make a pure pairing.

Play the game: Henry Harris’ roast partridge and spiced blackberries.


Play the sport: Henry Harris’ roast partridge and spiced blackberries. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian

Prep 10 min
Prepare dinner 1 hr
Serves Four

For the blackberries
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
200ml purple wine
6 crushed juniper berries
1 pinch chilli flakes
1 pinch floor cinnamon
2 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 dssp balsamic vinegar
1 grating orange zest
1 grating lemon zest
1 pinch sea salt
200g blackberries

For the partridges
1 x 250g packet comfortable unsalted butter
Four partridges (or different small recreation birds, comparable to wild duck or pheasant, during which case you might want solely 2 birds, relying on measurement; out of recreation season, use quail or guinea fowl)
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp recent thyme leaves
50ml cognac

First make the spiced berries. Put every thing bar the blackberries in a saucepan, deliver to a simmer and cook dinner for 5 minutes, till the liquid has lowered by half. Put the fruit in a small bowl, then pour on the new liquid, cowl and depart to chill (you may make them a day forward, and retailer within the fridge, during which case take them out an hour or so earlier than cooking, and put in a warmish spot, so they’re simply above room temperature when served).

Warmth the oven to 190C (170C fan)/gasoline 5. Rub butter everywhere in the partridges and season very generously. Put the birds in an ovenproof pan you could later use on the hob, pop them within the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, till simply cooked by means of (or a bit longer, for those who desire them effectively finished). Switch the pot to the hob on a medium warmth, so the butter begins to bubble, then add one other tablespoon of butter and the thyme. When the butter simply begins to tackle a fragile, nut-brown color, flip off the warmth and pour within the cognac – you may flambé it, if you want, but it surely’s superb simply to go away it to bubble till the spluttering subsides. Raise out the partridges and put in a heat place to relaxation for 15 minutes.

Tip any resting juices into the butter pan and provides it a final little burst of warmth. Put the partridges on particular person plates and spoon over the pan juices. Garnish with the spiced blackberries, and serve with some creamed cabbage alongside.

Facet dish: Creamed savoy cabbage with juniper and smoked bacon

Bold as brassica: Henry Harris’ creamed savoy cabbage with juniper and bacon.


Daring as brassica: Henry Harris’ creamed savoy cabbage with juniper and bacon. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian

Prep 5 min
Prepare dinner 15 min
Serves Four

1 savoy cabbage
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
10 juniper berries, crushed
Four rashers closely smoked streaky bacon (do you have to be blessed with an area Polish grocery store, use the darkest, blackest smoked bacon they’ve)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or grated
100ml white wine
300ml double cream

Quarter the cabbage, take away the dense core and minimize the leaves as finely as you may.

In a big, extensive saucepan, soften the butter over a really mild warmth, then add the chopped shallots and juniper, and cook dinner to melt the onions – about two minutes.

Lower the bacon into the thinnest of strips, like little wisps. Stir these into the pan and cook dinner gently for an additional minute. Now add the garlic and, 30 seconds later, the wine, and produce to a boil. Add the cabbage, loads of freshly floor black pepper and a little bit sea salt. On a excessive warmth, stir consistently till the cabbage collapses into the pan. When it has all softened – after about three to 5 minutes – add the cream and cook dinner vigorously, stirring, till the cream has lowered and coated the cabbage. Alter the seasoning to style, and serve.

Dessert: poire belle hélène

I am keen on this pudding nevertheless it’s served: it may be fancy, with fanned poached pears draped over vanilla ice-cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce; but it surely’s equally gratifying – and a little bit extra simple – served sundae-style in a big tumbler-type glass. A agency, not-quite-ripe pear is significant – a william, convention or comice could be preferrred. In case you don’t make vanilla-ice cream, it’s only a case of utilizing your most popular model.

Henry Harris’s classic French dessert: poire belle Hélène.


Henry Harris’ basic French dessert, poire belle Hélène.

Prep 5 min
Prepare dinner 35 min
Serves Four

For the pears
1 litre water
275g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, cut up lengthways
2 strips orange zest
Four agency pears
Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

For the chocolate sauce
75g water
75g caster sugar
150g 70% darkish chocolate

Begin with the pears. In a saucepan, heat the water with the sugar, vanilla and orange zest, and stir often till the sugar dissolves. Peel the pears, immerse them within the poaching liquid and simmer very gently till cooked by means of – about 25 minutes. (You may additionally peel, core and quarter the pears, during which case the cooking time will scale back; this additionally makes it simpler to examine that they’re cooked by means of.) Flip off the warmth, depart the pears to chill within the syrup, till chilly, then refrigerate till wanted.

Now for the sauce. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and produce to a boil. Break the chocolate into small items. Take away the pan from the warmth, stir within the chocolate and stir till it dissolves and also you’re left with a shiny sauce. Hold heat.

To serve, put a good-sized scoop of vanilla ice-cream in a pitcher or bowl. Slice or cube the poached pears (eradicating the core first if poached complete), and add to the tumbler. Lastly spoon over the nice and cozy chocolate sauce and serve at once.

Henry Harris is chef director of the Harcourt Inns group of pub/eating places in London.

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