Here at the Masons Arms in Gargrave, we absolutely love this time of year. Cold, dark nights, open fires roaring, and Christmas around the corner, what could be better? But not only that, there’s also an abundance of seasonal, fresh ingredients that really come into their own throughout the colder, wintery months. Yeh, Spring and Summer are great and all, but if you told us you don’t love slow braised meats with some hearty root vegetables and creamy mashed potato, we wouldn’t believe you! So, on that note, we’ve put together our top 5 seasonal winter ingredients, and how we recommend you use them. Let’s dive in…!
In the heart of winter, the earth offers up a treasure trove of root vegetables that bring warmth and depth to our plates. From the sweet and vibrant carrots perfect for roasting or making comforting soups to the earthy beets that can be transformed into vibrant salads or crispy chips, root vegetables are true winter champions. Turnips, radishes and parsnips each have their own distinct flavour profiles and offer a world of creative possibilities in the kitchen. Whether mashed, roasted, pickled, or pureed, these root vegetables promise to infuse your winter dishes with flavour, colour, and wholesome nutrition.
While winter may not be the most common season for seafood, mussels are a delightful exception. These little shellfish shine during the colder months, making them a unique and delicious addition to your winter menu. One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to enjoy mussels is in a classic dish like Moules Mariniere. To prepare this French-inspired dish, start by cleaning the mussels thoroughly, scrubbing the shells and removing any beards. In a large pot, sauté shallots, garlic, and a touch of fresh thyme in butter or olive oil until fragrant. Then, add white wine, bring it to a simmer, and introduce the mussels to the pot. Cover and steam them until they open, usually just a few minutes. Discard any mussels that remain closed. Finish the dish with a generous sprinkle of fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread to soak up the delectable broth.
In the realm of winter ingredients, duck stands out as a rich and sumptuous choice. Its succulent, flavourful meat pairs exquisitely with the hearty, warming dishes that the season beckons. One exceptional way to showcase duck’s indulgence is by preparing a classic dish: “Duck Confit.” This traditional French preparation involves slow-cooking duck legs in their own rendered fat until they become meltingly tender and deeply flavourful. To create this masterpiece, first season the duck legs with salt, pepper, and aromatic herbs. Allow them to cure for several hours or overnight. Then, gently cook the legs in a low-temperature oven submerged in duck fat. The result is a duck that’s not just cooked but transformed into a delicacy of incomparable richness. Serve the duck confit atop a bed of creamy mashed potatoes or alongside winter vegetables for a luxurious, comforting winter meal.
When it comes to seasonal ingredients, venison embodies the wild heart of winter. As the temperature drops and nature’s colours turn deeper, this lean, flavourful meat offers a unique and robust addition to your cold-weather culinary repertoire. A really good way to savour the essence of venison is by preparing a “Venison Stew.” This rustic dish combines tender venison with earthy root vegetables, aromatic herbs, and a rich, hearty gravy. To create this masterpiece, begin by marinating the venison in red wine, garlic, and spices for a few hours, infusing it with depth and complexity. Then, brown the marinated venison in a hot pot, adding onions, carrots, and celery. Pour in the marinade and beef broth, allowing the stew to simmer slowly until the venison is tender and the flavours meld into a comforting, soul-warming dish. Serve your venison stew with crusty bread and a glass of red wine, embracing the wild, rustic charm of the season.
Venison’s unique taste and lean character make it a superb choice for winter dining whether that be in a stew, roast, or even as a burger!
Dates offer a natural sweetness that’s perfect for warming, indulgent desserts like the beloved “Sticky Toffee Pudding.” This classic British dessert encapsulates the essence of winter with its rich, moist date-infused sponge cake topped with a luscious toffee sauce. To create this mouth-watering treat, begin by soaking pitted dates in hot water to soften them. Blend this mixture into a smooth paste, then incorporate it into your cake batter for a moist and flavourful base. The toffee sauce, made by simmering butter, cream, and brown sugar, completes the indulgence. Serve the warm, sticky toffee pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream for the perfect winter dessert that balances the cold outside with a heart-warming sweetness.
We hope you’ve been inspired by our top 5 winter ingredients. To be honest, when writing this we could have gone on for longer, as there’s so many wonderful ingredients at this time of year. Of course, these ingredients and dishes will be adorning the menus of the Masons Arms at some stage over the course of the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled for these and many more delicious homemade dishes our team of chefs conjure up.
Thanks for reading,
The Masons Arms Team