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Menu Matters October

As the leaves turn, so customers are looking for warming dishes and seasonal produce when dining outside the home. In this edition of our monthly Menu Matters feature, Oliver Kay development support chef Martin Eshelby has created some new recipes to help you make the most of the new season…

With customers looking for warming dishes, interesting flavours and seasonal fare, fresh produce specialist Oliver Kay has created some new seasonal recipes, Development chef Martin Eshelby looks at ways to encourage out of home dining. 

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is now well underway. As many pubs know, autumn menus can be a challenge at the best of times, and even more so when many customers are still cautious about going out post-pandemic, as well as being concerned about rising prices.

Getting people back into the dining-out habit during October and November is important, as it helps them to start thinking about the festive season, and get-togethers with family, friends and colleagues. A memorable menu now, can be a great way to start filling up the bookings diary.

We’ve been working on some new recipes which feature seasonal ingredients, as well as flavours to spice up autumn menus. For example, nduja may not be as traditional on pub menus as some other sausage varieties, but it’s a style more butchers are offering in response to the British consumer’s ever-more-torrid love affair with spicier flavours.

The chillies in nduja make it a great match with seafood, and the combination of flavours and  textures in this recipe Crab & Nduja Croquetas, Lobster Aioli and Parsnip Crisps make this dish a great starter or substantial bar snack.

Direct Seafoods, recently named Marine Stewardship Council Fresh Fish Food Service Supplier of the Year 2021, has 11 regional depots around the UK which can supply fresh and frozen seafood for this dish. 

One big challenge for making best use of fish and seafood on pub menus is the enduring  popularity of a few species. Salmon sees particularly strong demand in the run-up to the festive season, when it’s popular in buffets, as well as set menus. 

An alternative is farmed ChalkStream®️ trout from Hampshire, which is a sustainable, versatile product with a wonderful flavour – and even more so if you try this recipe for Gin Cured ChalkStream®️Trout, Celeriac Slaw, Pickled Candy Beets, and fresh Herbs. The gin cure is easy to prepare, adds a zingy twist and will bring the wow factor to menus and specials boards.

If it’s a hit with customers, consider adding it to the festive offer as a seafood course or an option for customers who want a fish rather than meat choice.

Steak is always a popular menu choice, and pairing it with a modern pub food classic such as mac & cheese as alternative to chips is a way to make midweek menus sizzle. Consider hosting a steak night to drive trade during quiet times, with this recipe for Dry-Aged Chargrilled Sirloin Steak, Oxtail Mac & Cheese with Roscoff onions, as the centrepiece.
The oxtail adds a rich flavour to the mac & cheese, and is a good way to use an often- underrated cut. The combination of onion sweetness and garlic spice in the Roscoff onions also helps make the dish memorable and punters wanting more!

Autumn is the time to feature the new season’s apple harvest on dessert menus, and with Halloween coming up, and pumpkin lantern décor about means you can avoid waste with all the scooped-out pumpkin available by trying this recipe for Pumpkin Tarte Tatin, Compressed Apple, Savoury Granola Salad - an unusual and appealing starter, main or dessert choice.

Whatever your menu style this autumn, stay in touch with specialist suppliers to make sure you’re getting the best from seasonal produce in terms of quality, value and availability. 


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