Paul Flynn: A plaice for everything as autumn rolls around

Embrace the slight chill in the air with these three hearty, comforting dishes

Grilled plaice, jalapeño, lime and parsley crust. Photograph: Harry Weir

Grilled plaice, jalapeño, lime and parsley crust. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

I can’t believe it’s September already. It’s as if the summer went past in a surreal blur and here we are with the evenings creeping in on us again. 

I look forward to the seasons changing, though. There’s a chill in the air and the sticks are ordered for winter. It’s important to get them when they are dry, otherwise I’ll be cursing through the winter when we need the solace of a comforting fire.

I begin to cook in a different way. The bright reds of tomatoes and peppers are filtered out as we gradually wave goodbye to the Mediterranean. In come autumnal colours and flavours. It’s time to put the cardigan back on. I’ve become a fan of the garment, a sure sign of the years passing.

I love plaice. I think it is wholly underrated. It is mostly condemned to be swaddled in batter, its soft sweet luxury ignored for the rough and tumble of the chipper. I’m making a piquant, creamy crust for it to lie under. The breadcrumbs when mixed with the mayonnaise lend a silky coating for it. The jalapeño and lime give it a jolt so it doesn’t get too comfortable under its warm duvet. I eat the skin underneath; it melts into into a gelatinous goo that I adore. I’d serve this with boiled potatoes and perhaps some tenderstem broccoli or a frisky green salad.

Less is always more when it comes to many things, including food. There are amazing puddings available to us on this island. Black and white keeps everyone happy, but you can mix and match according to your preference as they both go with the mushrooms. Kale pesto is big, butch and full of gravitas. I’m using the wonderful Coolea cheese to give it an Irish lilt. You could use another Irish hard cheese or some Parmesan.

 I’m a sucker for a chunky broth. I’m doubling up on the pulses for extra heft and adding allspice for a bit of character. Two smoked rashers will get on famously with the cabbage to make for a very satisfying autumn soup.

Grilled plaice, jalapeño, lime and parsley crust. Photograph: Harry Weir
Grilled plaice, jalapeño, lime and parsley crust. Photograph: Harry Weir

Recipe: Grilled plaice, jalapeño, lime and parsley crust

Field mushrooms, black and white pudding, Coolea cheese and kale pesto. Photograph: Harry Weir
Field mushrooms, black and white pudding, Coolea cheese and kale pesto. Photograph: Harry Weir

Recipe: Field mushrooms, black and white pudding, Coolea cheese and kale pesto

Spiced cabbage, borlotti bean and lentil soup. Photograph: Harry Weir
Spiced cabbage, borlotti bean and lentil soup. Photograph: Harry Weir

Recipe: Spiced cabbage, borlotti bean and lentil soup

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