Inventive, seasonally-led British fare from the new menu at Borough Plates
For gastronomes, one of the truly exciting things about walking around the Market is the endless inspiration it presents—be it discovering something novel, unusual or highly seasonal, available for mere weeks. A new ingredient sparks new ideas, and a dish is born.
It is this that gives such pleasure to head chef Justin Saunders when he approaches his weekly Borough Plates menu—a balanced and inventive display of the best of the season, which this week includes baked scallops from Sussex Fish with rich mashed potato and fish sauce (“It’s called coquilles st jacques in French; we call it scallops st jack,” says Justin); duck breast cured in a brine solution and cold smoked on site with thyme and bergamot, dished up with turnips; and plaice baked with carrots served with braised lettuce.
Due to the pop-up’s popularity—sweet-toothed diners rejoice—the pudding section has been strengthened to include two dessert options.
The first is apple crumble, made with four varieties of Chegworth Valley’s home-grown apples (bramley, cox, orange pippin and braeburn) poached with cinnamon to make a delicious puree—“we don’t mess around with the ingredients; the apples are so good, they speak for themselves”—sprinkled with biscuity topping made from butter, flour, demerara sugar and golden caster sugar, and served with homemade vanilla custard.
Classic English dessert
The second—and, in our humble opinion, the star of this week’s show—is a blood orange posset. “Blood oranges are very seasonal, and posset is a classic English dessert,” Justin continues. A mixture of Hook and Son cream, a little sugar and the zest and juice of blood oranges from Ted’s Veg is brought to the boil, left to bubble away for a couple of minutes, then poured into a glass and allowed to set. “There’s no gelatine, no egg yolks—it sets itself. The pectin and citric acid in the fruit causes natural coagulation.”
Once set, yet more blood oranges are juiced and heated with gelatine to make a brilliant red jelly which is poured over the top, the bitter edge of the jelly perfectly offsetting the sweetness of the cream.
“I want you to be able to taste the natural flavours of the fruit; its sweetness and acidity. When you add too much sugar to a dessert, it dulls the palate,” says Justin. “You want it to be clean, crisp, and vibrant. The posset is refreshing. It’s palate-cleansing. For me, it’s the perfect way to end a meal.”
It’s served with a generous slab of homemade shortbread peppered with orange zest, which is buttery and just the right level of crumbly, duly tested by its ability to withstand scooping up the deliciously wobbly posset, to nods of approval from Justin. We leave satisfied, our tastebuds singing with citrus zing for the remainder of the afternoon.