Check Out These Seasonal Choices For Your Autumn Menu

Key points

  • Autumn is a time of menu transition in anticipation of milder days to come
  • Braised meats are trending right now, with accompanying sauces and garnishes a little lighter than in winter
  • Pine mushrooms and field mushrooms are in season and are terrific choices for pizza and pasta
  • Slow roasted meats such as Lamb Shoulder and Pork Belly are economical cuts which are ideal as pizza toppings

WITH AUTUMN once again upon us, it’s a time of transition for many menus – as chefs start adding more warming ingredients in anticipation of milder days, while still balancing these with a selection of lighter-style dishes as the warmer temperatures continue for a good part of the country.

Given Australia is situated within several different climatic zones, not everyone has to worry about the onset of winter – but there are still some general principles which can be applied in recognition of seasonal trends, as Anchor Food Professionals chef Mark Normoyle explains.

“As we tend to have a mix of temperatures this time of year, the trend for most chefs is to create an eclectic menu, with a nod to the fact that we’re entering a cooler time,” Mark says. “Braised meats are trending right now as we move towards the milder months, but with the accompanying sauces a little bit lighter than you find in winter – such as using a white wine base as opposed to a red, and a lighter garnish such as light Asian style salads as opposed to the traditional mash and peas. These are great choices for the Autumn menu because they’re relatively easy to prepare in advance, but they require a lot of planning and commitment to make at home so consumers are more inclined to order them out.”

When it comes to pizza, pasta and Italian style food, Mark recommends taking advantage of the many staples of Mediterranean cuisine which are in season at this time of year – chief among them mushrooms, capsicums, zucchini, brussels sprouts and broccoli.

“The thing to remember with seasonal produce is that it’s not only at its best for quality but it’s also cheapest when it’s in season, because supply is plentiful,” he says. “The key is to keep in close contact with your suppliers – they’re the ones who are up at the fruit and veg market at 2am every time, so they know what’s in season and what are the best choices. Right now I’m seeing beautiful pine mushrooms and field mushrooms, which are terrific choices for pizza and pasta.”

With slow roasting trending on menus as temperatures start to recede across the country, Mark recommends using slow roasted meats such as Lamb Shoulder and Pork Belly on pizza.

“Lamb shoulder is a secondary cut, which is a more economical choice, and if you roast it at around 80 degrees for 14 hours overnight with a little salt and rosemary, the next morning you’ll have a beautiful golden juicy shoulder which you can then pull apart – it’s the ideal protein topping for a pizza. You can even grill it and serve with ricotta or goat’s cheese in a warm salad – it’s really versatile, tender and warming.

“Pork belly is another great product which is trending in kitchens at the moment. Be sure to salt and season it first, then slow cook it overnight before pressing it and portioning it up. You’ll find you can get seven to 10 days’ refrigerated shelf life out of it – it’s perfect on pizza and equally ideal as an entrée.” And as autumn is also a great time of year for apples, Mark suggests garnishing your pork belly pizza with homemade applesauce or apple gel for an in-season finishing touch.