Monday, 11 November 2013
Another comforting classic for this chilly weather. There are endless variations - some people use prawns and scallops as well as fish, some include chopped up boiled eggs or capers but mine is very straightforward. Just smoked haddock and cod in a parsley sauce topped with mashed potato and a sprinkling of parmesan.
This is something I make quite often so I will just give an idea of quantities as we go along.
I generally make this pie in advance as I find that it is best to let the sauce/fish mixture cool a bit. If you put the potatoes on top of the sauce whilst it is hot the potato seems to melt into the sauce and it all becomes a bit of a gooey mess. If the potato goes on the sauce when it has cooled the layers stay more distinct.
First of all the fish. I allow a medium sized fillet of fish per person and generally a third smoked fish to unsmoked. Put the fish in a wide shallow pan with around 500ml milk. Bring up to the boil and simmer for five minutes until just cooked. Remove the fish, break up into big chunks and put in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Season with salt and white pepper.
Make the white sauce with the milk that the fish has been poached in. I use around 50g butter and the same of flour for a four person pie. Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook that through then gradually add the milk, bring to the boil and whisk until smooth and thickened. You may need a bit more milk if the sauce is very thick as it needs to be the texture of thick custard. Stir in the juice of half a lemon and a big handful of chopped parsley. Pour over the fish.
Peel some potatoes, allowing a large potato per person. Cut into chunks and boil for 20 minutes until tender. Strain, mash the potatoes, add a splash of milk, a knob of butter and a generous shake of white pepper and beat until smooth.
As the fish and sauce mixture is quite unstable it is best to take spoonful's of the potato and dot over the top, then gently join the dots of potato up with a fork. Leave a hole in the potato in the centre. Sprinkle the top of the pie with a little cayenne pepper and finely grated parmesan.
Cook at 180 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbling. This pie takes a long time to cook through so use the hole in the mash topping to check that it is hot all the way through.
I think peas are an ideal accompaniment to this dish and perhaps some broccoli.