As Christmas approaches, we hear from head chef Paul Green and Kitchen Grower Briony about how they’re working together to showcase Torridon’ s winter produce!
From the Kitchen:
With Christmas and new year just around the corner the kitchen turns towards more traditional food offerings. Beef wellingtons, pate en croutes, tarte tatins- its a great opportunity for the young chefs to learn new skills and indeed for myself to revisit these classic preparations. The excitement all around as we carve the first Wellington- is the Torridon beef perfectly cooked? Is there enough mushrooms? Is the pastry deliciously flaky? Followed by a sigh of relief!
There’s a different atmosphere in the kitchen during the festive period. The staff seem closer together and while most people will spend this time with family our team work all the way through in to the new year. We’ll all sit down on Christmas Day and have lunch together, exchange secret Santa gifts and possibly a glass of something! Here at the Torridon we think of it as one large family and especially at this time of the year we’re all closer.
Ingredient wise the Jerusalem artichokes from the garden are in abundance and are all over dishes. We like to poach them in chicken stock with garlic, bay leaf and thyme and leave them to cool down in the stock to infuse even further. Then we roll them around some brown butter and season with some malt powder. They make wonderful crisps, and paired with some monkfish and pancetta are delicious.
Any apples and pears that we have stored over the past few months will find themselves cooked in a buttery caramel and baked in some puff pastry and served with some vanilla ice cream.
The end of the year is looming but there’s still so much to do- plus a brand new kitchen is being installed in January!
From the Kitchen Garden;
As we enter the darkest part of the year, hungry birds are fighting over the rowan berries and the Kitchen Garden is truly showing it’s bare bones. The large herbaceous borders have been cleared of their, now sodden, summer foliage. Just some pretty, architectural seed heads are left, for our delectation and for bird food!
Sadly, due to the extremely wet autumn we’ve just had, there isn’t a lot to look at in the garden. The short wet days mean our jobs are mainly sorting, planning for next year, washing pots and trays and cleaning greenhouses and poly-tunnels to keep pests and diseases at bay. Much pleasure was taken from clearing the terracotta pots around the hotel of their summer bedding and replanting them with tulips, iris reticulata and narcissi for early displays in 2022.
Although the variety of summer and autumn fruits is gone there are still some delights for our Chef to work with as gorgeously pungent quince fruits, Jerusalem artichokes, Florence fennel, kale and baby leeks are all still being harvested.
Before we know it we’ll be sowing seeds and starting the growing season all over again!