Wednesday

The Ultimate Fish Pie recipe

fishing boat, Brighton marina
There are three levels of success when it comes to cooking an excellent meal:

First - consider it a success when your dinner guests clear their plates

Second - the meal becomes a great success when your guests not only clear their plates but help themselves to leftovers until nothing is left over

Third - you can only consider it as excellent when they ask you for the recipe in earnest, then you can be sure that you've hit on a best seller

That is why this is called the Ultimate Fish Pie recipe; however it does come with a health warning. This recipe will not help you lose weight.

One last tip, this is quite a preparation-heavy pie, so make it at least the day before so you can savour it as much as everyone else when it comes to serving it up.

Serves 6 – 8,
Use a 2.5 litre capacity ovenproof dish,
Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6

Filling:

Smoked haddock 500g fillet with skin
Fresh haddock 500g fillet with skin
Milk 300ml
Bay leaf 1
Sea salt and black pepper
Eggs 4 medium

Sauce:

Unsalted butter 60g
Plain flour 50g
Dry vermouth 150ml
Double cream 150ml
Dijon mustard 2 heaped tsp
Chives nipped to make 6 tbsp
Nutmeg freshly grated

Mash:

Maris Piper, King Edward or McCurdy’s potatoes 1kg
Parsnips or butternut squash 500g
Unsalted butter 50g
Double cream 100ml
Egg yolks 2 medium

Place the fish in a large pan cutting to fit. Pour over the milk and tuck in the bay leaf, season with sea salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Cover, leaving a gap for the steam to escape, and cook on a low heat for 5-7 minutes until just done.

Strain the cooked milk into a bowl and retain for making the sauce. When cool enough to handle, flake the fish coarsely, discarding the skin (if more liquid is shed at this point, throw it away).

Bring a small pan of water to the boil and hard boil the 4 eggs for 8 minutes, then drain, return to the pan, pour in cold water and leave to cool.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium-size non-stick pan over a medium heat, then stir in the flour and allow to seethe for a minute. Gradually add the vermouth, the strained milk, the cream and finally the mustard. 

Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then set to simmer over a very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (if any butter separates, stir vigorously until reincorporated). Fold in the chives, then the haddock, then season with nutmeg and taste, adding a little more salt and pepper if necessary.

Transfer the haddock mixture to your ovenproof dish. Shell and slice the eggs and lay the slices over. Cover and leave to cool completely – this prevents the mash topping from sinking in.

For the mash, peel the potatoes and halve or quarter if large. Trim, peel and halve the parsnips or butternut squash. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes, then add the parsnips/butternut squash and cook for another 15 minutes or until tender. Drain into colander, leave for a minute, then mash. Add 50g of the butter in pieces and stir until it dissolves, then mix in the cream, the egg yolks and some seasoning. Smooth over the top of the fish, cover and chill the pie.

Bake for 40 minutes until crusty and golden.
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