Friday, 29 November 2013

Feelgood Friday: Fish Pie

The late autumn dilemma - too early for gamey casseroles, but too many root vegetables already. So I've turned to fish pie, to see if I can have me some comfort food and not wreck the pre-party season regimen.

This version draws on Nigella's Blakean fish pie recipe, a recipe from the first and best Delia Smith's Classic Collection and the more recent but immediately indomitable Ballymaloe. Surprisingly, Delia's is the least calorific and seems the most edgy with the now fashionably Mittel-Euoropeen addition of capers and boiled eggs.

For 4-6

750g fish - pollock, haddock, salmon, hake, cod if you must
800g potatoes
pint of milk
125g butter
onion, finely chopped

2 tbspns flour
pinch of nutmeg
3 hardboiled eggs
spoonful of capers
spoonful of chopped gherkins
parsley, finely chopped
150g cooked prawns

First make the mash potato topping. Add peeled and chopped potatoes to boiling water and cook for 15-20 minutes until soft. Drain the water, and mash the potatoes with a fork/masher/ricer depending on your taste for smoothness and your muscle power.


Heat half a pint of milk and half the butter in a separate pan, add that to the mash along and stir in. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180ºc, gas mark 4. Now, gently sweat the onion in a wide pan until soft but not golden, then reserve. Place the fish in the same pan, pour in the vermouth, bring to simmering.

Then pour in enough milk to nearly cover and poach for 3-4 minutes (note that if you are using a mix of fish, you may need to put some in ahead to allow a longer cooking time).

Remove the fish to a plate, reserve the liquid to a jug. There should be about 400ml of liquid. Melt the remaining butter in the pan, add the nutmeg and stir in the flour to make a roux.

Then gradually add the reserved liquid, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while. Take the pan off the heat and add the fish, onions, eggs, capers, gherkins and parsley.

Now butter a 1 litre casserole dish and put in the fish mixture. Throw the prawns in too. Stir and season to taste. Then spoon over the mash, and top with a little grated cheese if you wish. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes and when done, serve with sauteed leeks and peas.

My version today is without capers and gherkins - Grannie is visiting and said these are some of the few foods she doesn't like. I don't remember her applying that policy to me when it came to brussel sprouts, but one moves on.  Instead, I improvised a small and delightful lunch of soft boiled egg, mash and capers.


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