From Jersey Royal potatoes to sea vegetables – we get a steer on what’s ripe and ready for your menu.

Head chef Fran Hartshorne, of The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe, works to uphold the pub's 'Food Made Good' three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and has a pretty good idea about what’s good right now.

 

Spring lamb

Specifically, salt marsh lamb (grazed on coastal pastures). Fran is serving it with curried potato, pomegranate, yoghurt & a spinach dumpling as a main.

 

Nettles

These can be foraged from the garden with the right expertise. Fran has utilised hers to make a pesto. She says: “This is served with local Brancaster asparagus grown in the village for us by a man called Ian, and also a cured egg yolk as a starter.”

 

Sea vegetables

Which pair with any seafood dish. Fran says: “I'm using sea beets, which are like spinach with a subtle saltiness. It’s being served with a cod dish main course.

“I'm also using sea aster on specials. This has quite a sweet flavour, with hints of iron and nut.”

 

Crab

If you have links to the coast, get in contact with a local fisherman. “I have Cromer crab on the menu, which stays all through summer,” Fran explains.

“At the moment we have a dressed crab with preserved lemon mayo & red onion salad and crab beignets (deep-fried choux pastry filled with crab meat), with pink grapefruit & tarragon oil.

“I shall be looking at putting in sea trout next month and Brancaster lobsters, as they start to become more available. Asparagus will stay around few more weeks yet too.”

 

Jersey Royal potatoes

 

May is also prime time for Jersey Royal potatoes. Michelin Starred head chef Steve Smith, at Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, St Hellier, Jersey, shares his top tips for how to cook the perfect potatoes this season.

 

1. Fresh is best

“Cooking with fresh Jersey Royals may seem like stating the obvious, but it has such a huge impact on the final taste. Avoid any potatoes that have gone soft or green.”

 

2. Avoid the fridge

“It is a common misconception that if you want food to last longer you should keep it in the fridge.

“When it comes to Jersey Royals you should store them in a cool, dark place as putting them in the fridge turns the starch to sugar, making them lose much of their signature flavour.”

 

3. Save the skin

“Simply wash off the excess dirt from the potatoes rather than peeling or scraping them.

“This removes any unwanted bits without wasting a good source of fibre and texture.”

 

4. Boiling point

"When boiling or part-boiling the Jersey Royals place them in cold, salty water and allow the water to gradually reach boiling point.

“You can add a bit of mint or dill to the water for flavour when cooking. Once the water has come to the boil and is simmering, the potatoes should take around 10 minutes. Leave them to cool in the water.”

 

5. Get the perfect roasts

"Get a potato masher to crush the cooked potatoes to increase the surface area so that the heat gets into every crevice.

“Sprinkle with a bit of fresh thyme and Maldon salt then roast the Jersey Royals at around 200°C.”