Halloween has now passed and we have lots of lovely pumpkins left over in the kitchen garden which are being used for beautiful Autumnal soups and silky smooth purees for various dishes. During these autumn months, hearty and earthy root vegetables are in abundance and we play around with these flavours to make the perfect garnish for our dishes.
One of my favourites is roasting swede with butternut squash, pairing this with a chestnut puree and camomile soaked raisins. It makes the most amazing garnish for venison or game birds. We braise our Jerusalem artichokes and cut into little chips before they are deep-fried, which provides the most intense artichoke flavour around, which goes amazingly well with our Welsh beef fillet.
For me root vegetables are a favourite and there are many steps you can take to extract the most amount of flavour available. After all extraction of flavour is our jobs as chefs! Here are some of my top tips when cooking with root vegetables.
- You must cook them until they are soft. Only then do they release their sugars and become as sweet as they should be.
- Season the vegetables early, when they first hit the heat of a pan or boiling water. You want to cook the seasoning into the its core.
- Don’t be afraid to pair herbs and spices to maximise the flavour of the vegetable. For example, rosemary really does lift the flavour of swede, it’s incredible. Thyme is an obvious one but when put with turnips, salsify or celeriac, flavour is enhanced. A less obvious pairing is tarragon with carrots, but definitely one worth doing. Play with spices too, a few cumin seeds sprinkled over roasting vegetables works wonders.