Shropshire is known for its thriving food and drinks industry, and chefs in the Ludlow area have ready access to fantastic produce and suppliers. The diversity is remarkable but remains largely hidden to residents and visitors. Here local chef, Nick Bennett at Old Downton Lodge reveals a few of his favourite local producers and dishes up a quick and easy recipe.
Where do you live/cook and what is about the area that fires up your imagination and cooking when at home?
I am lucky enough to live opposite Old Downton Lodge, so I am easily inspired by the beautiful surroundings on the Downton Estate. From wild fruits and herbs to game — especially in the autumn. Cooking at home is very much a family affair though. Luckily my two boys will eat anything but there isn’t much fine dining being done in between shifts!
Which ingredients do you tend to source locally? And can you name a few of your favourite local store cupboard favourites?
I work closely with Liam Walls butchers in Craven Arms who sources some amazing meat and game for me as well as using the brilliant cheeses made at the Ludlow Farm Shop. We also use the fruit and vegetables grown in our kitchen garden as much as we can. A new starter of Ludlow Gold braised Herefordshire Beef Brisket is going down very well too! We will go and pick elderflower and wild garlic on the estate when in season and preserve them for later in the year.
What’s cooking at Old Downton Lodge today?
We’re coming to the end of shoot season so there is a fair bit of changes to the menu happening. We’ve cooked some beautiful crabs for our Coronation Crab starter, roasted our Hogget bones to make a sauce infused with hay, and are about to poach some amazing Forced Rhubarb to feature on a dessert with a set Rice Pudding.
Can you offer a dish with a local twist/inspiration for our readers to make at home?
You can make a version of our Beer Braised Beef Brisket Starter at home, just served like a stew.
Method: Lightly flour the brisket and fry in a pan until nicely browned. Remove the meat. Add the vegetables and herbs and cook for 5 minutes. Stirring regularly. Return the beef to the pan. Add the sugar and ale. Boil for 3 minutes. Cover with the stock and cook in a casserole dish for 3 hours at 140.C in a fan oven. Serve with some mashed potato and buttered carrots.
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Old Downton Lodge
Downton on the Rock, Ludlow SY8 2HU
Telephone : +44 (0) 1568 771826
To find out more or to make a booking click HERE