Menu of the Month – March by Chef Patron Steven Smith

Chef Smith describes the food at the Freemasons as a ‘slice of country refinement with a twist of contemporary creativity and flair’ using the finest seasonal ingredients. His menu for March features the first of the new potatoes, mushrooms and seasonal greens.

He says: ‘My starter is jersey royals – they are just coming into season and it’s a really popular dish with our customers. The main is a chicken with black garlic dish – we use a lot of seasonal greens in this dish, it’s a beautiful dish with a lot of different flavours complementing each other.’

Starter – Jersey Royals with crispy eggs, dashi and hen of the woods

For the dashi
2l of spring water
40g of kombu
45g of bonito flakes, 2 cups
1 dash of soy sauce
1 dash of mirin
4 slices of bacon, thick cut, skin only
1 dash of rice wine
1 handful of hen of the woods, cleaned
1 knob of butter
2 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
chives, finely chopped
1 dash of dry sherry
1 dash of extra virgin rapeseed oil
1 dash of lemon juice
For the crispy eggs
4 pheasant eggs
1l of canola oil, for frying
1 egg
For the Jersey Royals
12 Jersey Royal potatoes, washed
1 knob of butter
1 dash of lemon juice
50ml of ham stock
50ml of dashi
1 knob of butter
1 dash of lemon juice

To serve
4 slices of jamon Iberico de Belotta, or good quality cured ham
pork scratching
chives, finely chopped


For the dashi:
1. Begin by preparing the dashi. Gently wipe clean the Kombu, being sure not to remove the white (umami). Do not wash the kombu, it only requires a light wipe. Gently slice 2 or 3 times with scissors and place in a big saucepan with the spring water.2. Heat the contents of the pan to 85°C.3. Remove the Kombu and skim the surface of the water. Add bonito flakes and simmer for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the heat – the bonito flakes should fall to the bottom of the pot. Once this has happened, strain the liquid through a fine strainer lined with muslin cloth and return to the pot.4. Add soy sauce, mirin and rice wine vinegar to taste, but remember it should be delicate in flavour and not too overpowering. Bring to the boil and add the bacon skin, then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse.5. For the mushrooms, tear the hen of the woods into bite-size pieces. Place a pan over a medium heat and add a large knob of butter. Once the butter begins to foam, fry the mushrooms until lightly golden. Add a splash of sherry and pinch of salt and simmer briefly to glaze. Remove from the heat and finish with chives.

For the crispy eggs:
6. To prepare the crispy eggs, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and poach each egg for 1 minute each, then remove from the water and cool in ice water. Once cold, trim away some of the excess egg white to make neat circles

7. Add the flour, additional egg and breadcrumbs to separate bowls for coating, beating the egg with a pinch of salt to make egg wash. In this order, coat the poached eggs in the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs. Set aside until required.

For the Jersey Royals
8. Heat the dashi in a medium pot and add the Jersey Royals. Boil until soft then remove the potatoes. Add to a hot pan with a knob of butter and a generous squeeze of lemon juice, cook until glazed. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

9. To prepare a sauce, heat the dashi and ham hock stock in a small pan. Once warm, add a small dash of lemon juice and a knob of butter, remove from the heat and stir to emulsify. Keep warm until required.

11. Heat the canola oil in a deep fat fryer to 180˚C. Deep-fry the crumbed eggs until golden, remove and drain on kitchen towel. Dress the sliced chestnut mushrooms in a little lemon, salt and rapeseed oil.

12. Dress each plate with swirls of the sauce, then place the egg in the middle with a piece of Iberico ham and chunks of pork scratching on top. Arrange the warm mushrooms and potatoes alongside and scatter with chopped chives. Finish with a small side of hot dashi and serve immediately.

To serve
4 slices of jamon Iberico de Belotta, or good quality cured ham
pork scratching
chives, finely chopped

Main – Chicken with black garlic, mushrooms and asparagus

For the chicken
2 chicken breasts, good quality, skin on
4 black garlic cloves
Foie Gras sauce
250g of foie gras, deveined, roughly chopped
400ml of Gewürztraminer
585ml of whole milk
1 lemon, juiced
For the charred leek purée
4 white leeks
1 tbsp of squid ink
1 tbsp of miso paste
1 dash of soy sauce
To serve
4 chestnut mushrooms
1 knob of butter
4 asparagus spears
100g of broad beans
100g of fresh peas
2 2/3 handfuls of pea shoots
Rapeseed oil

To serve
2 2/3 handfuls of pea shoots
25ml of Gewürztraminer

1. For the foie gras sauce, place 375ml of the wine in a saucepan and reduce to 100ml. In a separate pan, bring the milk (585ml) to the boil slowly.2. Remove from the heat and using a stick blender, blend in the foie gras, followed by the reduced wine and the juice of a lemon. Season to taste and set aside in a warm place until ready to serve.3. Preheat the oven to 130˚C/gas mark 1/2.4. For the charred leek purée, cut the leeks in half lengthways and wash thoroughly. Use a very hot chargrill pan to blacken the leeks on both sides, then remove from the heat, trim down slightly and scatter evenly on the base of a saucepan.5. Add enough water to just cover (200-300ml), bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the pan is almost dry. Transfer to a high-speed blender and blitz with the squid ink, a dash of soy sauce and the miso paste.

6. Once the purée is very smooth, press through a fine strainer, transfer to a squeezy bottle and set aside until required.

7. Preheat oven to 150˚C/gas mark 2.

8. Make a couple of incisions along the side of each chicken breast and stuff with the black garlic. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes, then remove and rest for 5 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, cut the chestnut mushrooms in half and colour cut-side down in a hot pan with a dash of rapeseed oil. To finish, add a small knob of butter, toss to coat and season with salt
10. Trim the asparagus and peel up to the tip. Blanch in boiling salted water with the peas and broad beans for 1 1/2 minute. Strain, peel the broad beans, season all the greens and keep warm.

11. Before serving, reheat the foie gras sauce, adding the remaining 25ml of wine to refresh the flavour.

12. To serve, pipe the charred leek purée in swirls on the base of each plate. Slice each breast in half and place on top of the purée.

13. Scatter the asparagus, broad beans, peas and mushrooms onto each plate. Drizzle with the foie gras sauce and garnish with pea shoots before serving.


Bio: Chef Patron Steven Smith

Born in Lancashire, Steven Smith is the Chef Patron of the multi-award winning Freemasons at Wiswell in his home county. A former winner of the Acorn Award that recognises excellence under the age of 30, Steven has taken the Freemasons from winning Best Newcomer Award in The Publican Awards in 2011 to its third AA rosette. The Freemasons was ranked fourth in the Top 50 Gastropubs in 2017 and was the only pub to be listed in The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants.

For his dishes, Steven takes inspiration from the local area – Wiswell village, Lancashire and the North West – from seasonal ingredients and the fusion of English and Asian flavours.

The Freemasons has been a Wellocks’ customer since 2009.