2 Spring Recipes From The Unruly Pig

By Ellie Smith

4 weeks ago

Spring cooking inspiration from the UK's top gastropub


Suffolk is one of the UK countryside’s top foodie hubs, with an abundance of great produce – and plenty of charming pubs and restaurants cooking it up in interesting ways. One of the most famous is The Unruly Pig, the gastropub which took home the prestigious title of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list for 2024. Owned by Brendan Padfield, the pub serves a blend of British and Italian cuisine, with a monthly changing menu inspired by what’s growing each season. Here, head chef Dave Wall shares two recipes he’ll be cooking this spring.

Unruly Asparagus Tart Recipe

‘Spring, for me, is most synonymous with one of the most iconic of British ingredients, asparagus – and East Anglia produces some of the best asparagus in the world,’ says Dave. ‘So, here’s some tips to make the most of this glorious stem.

‘The fresher the better. Try to buy your asparagus from local grocers who are more likely to have freshly picked spears than a supermarket who will have probably couriered it halfway across the country (or worse, further). Use your asparagus as soon as you can but if it needs storing, wrap the bunch in a wet cloth in the fridge.

‘Crab is a perfect partner to asparagus and this recipe will make a wonderful lunch or dinner party dish. It’s another marriage made in heaven, so please enjoy!’

The Unruly Pig's asparagus tart

For 8 individual tartlets or an 8” larger tart

Ingredients:

  • 250g shortcrust pastry 
  • 250g brown crab meat
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 120ml whipping cream 
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • A pinch of paprika
  • 250g picked white crab meat
  • 1 batch of hollandaise sauce (as above)
  • A rind of parmesan to grate on top
  • 2-3 spears of asparagus per person (cooked by your preferred method from the above)

Method:

  1. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and gently lay over the tart mould. Coax the sides into the mould corners. Trim the excess pastry leaving a slight overhang. 
  2. Chill the pastry for 45 minutes. 
  3. Line the pastry with foil and baking beads this is known as blind baking). In a preheated oven (180°) cook the tart for 20-25 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, turning the temperature down to 110 degrees..
  4. Blend the brown crab, whipping cream, egg yolks, salt and paprika in a food processor and then pass through a fine sieve into your tart. 
  5. Bake the tart for around 25-30 minutes until the custard has set with a gentle wobble. Mix the white crab meat with the hollandaise, top the tart and then finely grate parmesan to cover. Gratinate under a grill and then serve and warm with your asparagus. Perfect with a glass of Vermentino or Pecorino (both Italian numbers that are great with shellfish).

Unruly Crab Risotto

‘Whilst Devon crab is great, East Anglian crab is divine,’ says Dave. ‘However, some diners don’t “get” crabs yet they do eat other shellfish. I think they are really missing out. There is a reason why Cromer crab is so famous (it’s so sweet and meaty). There’s also a reason why most of our crabs in the U.K. are exported to Europe – because they are simply the best. 

‘Therefore, you might not be surprised to hear that for myself the real king of shellfish is the crab. Nothing beats the subtlety and sweetness of its white meat and the fragrance and distinctive flavour of the brown meat. More to the point, Britain’s best crustacean is good for you.’

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large dressed crabs 
  • For the stock – 1 onion, 3 carrots, 3 sticks of celery, ½ a bulb of garlic, a tablespoon of tomato puree, 100ml white wine, a small handful of over ripe tomatoes, a good sprig of thyme
  • 125g butter
  • 100ml white wine
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 250g risotto rice (carnaroli is my favourite)
  • 30g chives
  • 1 small lemon, juiced
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated

Method:

  1. Firstly, make the stock. Smash the shells and lay in a heavy pan. Cut the veg into chunky 2cm dice and roast in a thick-based stock pot (medium heat) for 10-12 minutes until caramelized. Add the shells, tomato puree, tomatoes and thyme and deglaze the pan with the wine. Cover with water, approx. 1.5L and bring to the boil. Skim away any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer for 45 -60 minutes. Pass the stock through a fine sieve and keep warm.
  2. Sweat the onions over a low heat in half the butter for 5 minutes until they’re soft (but not browned). 
  3. Add the rice and toast for 2 minutes before deglazing with the wine. Add a ladle of stock. Continue to cook the rice, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon (don’t use a metal one as it can break the grain up). As the rice absorbs the stock, add another ladle, continuing this process for 12-14 minutes until the rice is cooked but still with a little bite. 
  4. Finish the risotto with the brown crab meat, chives, lemon juice and parmesan, adding a little more stock to loosen it up if it seems too dry or stiff. Spoon onto your plates and serve the white meat over the top. 

Find out more at theunrulypig.co.uk