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A year at the Market: hero products

Categories: News and previews

Ed Smith on inimitable Market ingredients and their starring role in the upcoming Borough Market Cookbook

One of the (enjoyable) challenges of writing the forthcoming Borough Market Cookbook was working out how to pitch a cookbook about a specific place, without excluding a wide variety of readers because they can’t visit regularly—if at all. This place has such warm support from around the world, let alone across London and the UK, so it was clear that the recipes within it should be relatively universal and achievable for all, albeit grounded in Borough Market’s traders, their produce and the environs.

While the theme of the book is ‘stories and recipes from a year at the Market’, and the stories are very much about Borough Market and the people that work here, the earlier posts in this series have explained that most of the recipes are about the joys of market shopping and cooking with seasonal produce. We think this is as applicable a mantra to those lucky enough to regularly stroll underneath the railway arches near London Bridge as it is to shoppers at La Boqueria in Spain, Pike Place in Seattle, or the farmers’ markets in Stroud, Newcastle and Norwich.

That said, we didn’t want to be overly coy or defensive about Borough Market’s produce. It is The Borough Market Cookbook after all, and there are world class ingredients here we should absolutely proudly shout about!

Key ingredients
Accordingly, virtually all of the recipes link to traders that you can head to, to find key ingredients from that recipe. Moreover, a key part of the paragraph above is “most of the recipes”, which reflects that some, in fact, do utilise ingredients that are particular to or redolent of Borough Market. Things you could class as ‘hero’ products.

There is, for example, a pasta dish that will work best if you can come to Three Crown Square and pick up a pair of The Ham and Cheese Co’s salami campagnole, Jumi Cheese’s Belper Knolle tops a tomato tart, there’s a one-pot chicken dish that could be made with normal butter beans but you really should use Brindisa’s pre-cooked judion beans, and you’ve honestly never tasted a marshmallow as good as those that are dusted with Spice Mountain’s fruit powders.

A hero product that gets a mention in the book (in the context of an autumnal tumble of malfatti) is Pâté Moi’s wild mushroom pâté. For me, this is an absolute classic. Here is a product that sings both ‘artisanal’ and ‘Borough Market’—the kind of thing that’s both an affordable, low key, incidental trophy of occasional market shopping, and a reason to return again and again.

A pleasing sweetness
Indeed, if I picture a visit to Borough Market based on all my years of walking around the site, one of the first things I see is Pâté Moi’s stall with its pots lined up, and an ever-eager crowd reaching for a taster. They, like me, love what they try—there’s so much umami in such a little spoonful, a powerful and long-lasting hit of wild ’shrooms, plus a pleasing sweetness that I assume comes from a cheesy curd that’s somewhere within the secret recipe. It’s completely different to a mushroom pâté found at the supermarket. It’s also typical of so many products at Borough Market, in that you can enjoy it unadulterated, on toast (or even by the spoonful), but you can also cook with it, whether by simply embellishing a dish with it or making it the star.

A hero product can be used as an ingredient in multiple ways. This pâté could, for example, be used in the context of a contemporary take on a beef wellington, using the pâté as the mushroom duxelle between pastry and meat (where the meat is pork tenderloin? or venison fillet?). It might be the showstopping final seasoning for a wild mushroom risotto or pilaf. It could be used to enhance a root vegetable gratin, with the pâté spread between the layers where you’d otherwise consider adding butter or cheese.

Or, perhaps it could be used as the filling for a kinda-kiev—stuffed into the middle of a market-bought, free-range chicken breast, then coated with fine breadcrumbs salvaged from the end of an ageing loaf that you’d gotten from one of the bakers a week before, then paired with some of the summer’s crop of tomatoes, slow-roasted until intense and yielding.

Hmm, yes, that sounds rather good…

The recipe for a Pâté Moi stuffed chicken and slow-roast tomatoes is online now. Don’t forget to pre-order the book, so that all those other recipes that did make it in arrive promptly in your letterbox on 4th October.