Petra Pennington, Food Writer

Autumn, with its rich harvest of fruit in the orchards and hedgerows, is the natural time to revive those simple, traditional, warming fruit desserts we know and love from childhood – let’s get ready to crumble!

For some years now, Donald Russell customers have been able to get a homemade crumble in a handy individual serving, hot out of the oven from frozen. We went all appley, if you pardon the homespun adjective, with flavours revolving around the velvety sweetness of the good old Bramley apple. We added a few raspberries to one, and a little rhubarb to another, so the flavour focus was light and tart, and smacked of summer freshness.

With our latest offerings, however, Stefan and his small team of chefs were inspired by the ripe orchard fruits of early autumn. The pairings of fruit with spices and other aromatic ingredients evoke the cosy, warm feeling we instinctively turn to as the nights start to get dark earlier and the air gets a little colder outside.

Orchard Fruits

Sour cherries burst vibrantly ruby pink through their golden crumble topping; fragrant fresh apricots are kissed by the marzipan aroma of drops of spongecake within the crumble, infused with apricot kernels (an ingenious touch, which allows people with nut allergies to enjoy a frangipane-almond flavour); and – my favourite – dark indigo plums are baked with a heady breath of cinnamon beneath their crisp crumbly crown. The Autumn Fruit Crumbles have arrived!

NEW! Crumbles

Like the bounty of the autumn hedgerows, some of the best things don’t last long. These seasonal treats are no different – a limited edition dessert (rather like the popular Summer Cheesecakes we brought you earlier this year), you’d better snap them up while you can.

Autumn Crumbles Selection

Stefan has suggested many different ways to enjoy these Autumn Fruit Crumbles, including with the elegant and slightly retro Chantilly cream, or even with a fool of the appropriate fruit and cream. However, in my mind, only one way truly fulfils autumnal expectations – hot with lashings of custard!

Petra

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Stefan Kölsch - Head Chef

We all love comfort food. Foods to ‘feed the soul’ are high on my list of cravings throughout the autumn months, and creating really warming, comforting dishes is something I take great pride in as a chef.

Well, I have been busy! And the results of my cooking and testing, and cooking and testing, and cooking and testing (I had a lot of fun in the kitchen!) are finally ready to be enjoyed by you at home – six brand new Donald Russell Casseroles.

Casserole Range

Taking the same approach I did with our popular beef casseroles, I selected humble cuts full of natural flavour with which to make these tempting slow cooked dishes. Only this time the focus has been on the lighter meats – chicken and pork. Using the thigh and shoulder cuts gives the dishes real body, big bold flavours, and a heartiness you just wouldn’t get from using leaner cuts.

I revisited some of my favourite dishes from the continent, and with a few tweaks of my own, gave them the ‘Donald Russell twist’:
Coq Au Vin, where the chunky pieces of chicken have been marinated in the red wine – you can see it in the rich, dark colour of the meat! Pork in a creamy leek and Dijon mustard sauce – wow! And a piquant and punchy Pork Goulash, with whole cherry tomatoes and its signature deep red paprika gravy.

Casseroles

The new range also includes a risotto, with tender Arborio rice, chicken and ham, and of course, its creamy, almost sticky texture from just the right amount of cheese.

I feel we’ve achieved our goal – to bring you a restaurant experience in your own home. And it’s so easy; from frozen to steaming and delicious in just 7 minutes from frozen, with no washing up – it’s a chef’s dream come true!

Enjoy!

Stefan Kölsch
Head Chef

P.S. If you’re feeling inspired to get the pots and pans out yourself, then we have the ideal cuts of meat to give your homemade stews the ‘wow’ factor! And if you’d like a little guidance or inspiration, check out my recipes, and let me know how you get on through facebook

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What is a Sirloin Steak?

If prepared well, eating a good sirloin steak can be one of life’s little pleasures. But if you’re not a trained butcher, how would you know what this cut is, and what makes it such an enjoyable eat? As a master butcher, I think I can help there…

The whole striploin, or sirloin, is a primal cut to be found beneath the back of the animal, between the ribs and the fillet. In fact, that’s how it gets its name, which comes from the French ‘surloine’, meaning ‘below the loin’, as loin is the old name for the fillet.

Guide to Cuts

Sirloin steaks – also known as New York Strip Steaks in the USA – are cut from the very best meat to be found in the primal.

Combining the finest tender meat of the whole striploin with an outer edge of fat down one side, these steaks cook really well (watch Stefan, our Head Chef demonstrate just how easy they are to cook in his video) and are the ideal fit for most diners. They occupy the perfect balance between the extremes provided by other steak cuts – not too lean, fatty, tough or mild, you certainly don’t have to be a steak aficionado to taste their instant appeal. No wonder the sirloin is known as ‘the nation’s favourite steak’!

Sirloin Steaks

What to look for in the perfect Sirloin Steak…

Grass-fed – you just can’t match it for flavour. Grass-fed beef has a richer, sweeter flavour than grain-fed, and won’t leave a greasy aftertaste.

Well matured – about 28 days should be right, certainly no less, or the flavour and tender texture just won’t be developed enough. Smell it once it’s been at room temperature and before you cook it – it might sound odd but the raw beef should have a gorgeous, buttery aroma

Good marbling – although not as heavily marbled as ribeye or some of the humble cuts, sirloin steaks should still be streaked with tiny flecks of fat throughout the meat

Butchered with care – all gristle and silverskin should have been removed so you don’t have to leave anything on your plate

Trimmed of excess fat – known as ‘special trim’ in the trade, just 5mm left on should be plenty for a great flavour when cooking

A good thickness – this can and will vary depending on the size of the cross section of the whole striploin; if it came from a smaller animal, your steaks will be thicker to achieve the same weight. Anything around ¾” thick will give you a good succulent bite when cooked to medium.

These are the criteria I would measure any Sirloin Steak against, and would select mine accordingly. They are features which come as standard with all Donald Russell Sirloin Steaks, which is just as well; if you can trust a traditional butcher to look after the essential details for you, you can just get on with enjoying your steak.

I always pan-fry mine, following our foolproof cooking guide, and eat it with chips, onions and mushrooms of course!

Cooked Sirloin

Mark Farquhar

Head Butcher

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