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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sustainable Fish Pie



When you come home on a cold winter's night, what better comforting dish than Sustainable Fish Pie, warming and nourishing? Although it is called a pie, there is no pastry involved; just an unctuous topping of creamy, mashed potato the top of which should crisp up slightly in the oven.
Serves 4-6 people
Shopping list:
1kg firm, sustainable fish fillets (it can be a mixture of smoked and unsmoked fish for added flavour)
1.5kg of floury potatoes
350ml of full cream milk
A few good knobs of butter
2 tablespoons of sifted white flour
150g grated cheese (a mixture of strong cheddar and Parmesan works well)
A handful of fennel leaves or dill (or a mixture of both) finely chopped
1 small onion (finely diced)
A good slug of dry, white wine
1 bay leaf
A small grating of nutmeg.
1. First of all, peel and boil the potatoes until cooked through. Drain immediately and leave to cool a little. While the potatoes are cooking, melt a little butter in a large frying pan and when it starts of sizzle, add the onion and fennel/dill and fry gently until the onion is translucent. Turn up the heat and add the white wine. Let it evaporate for a couple of minutes, then add the milk to the pan.
2. When the milk is hot (be careful not to boil it or it will 'split') add the fish fillets. Wait until the milk has reheated, then turn off the heat and cover the pan. Leave for around 5 minutes until the fish is almost cooked through, before draining the fish, and reserving the liquid.
3. Melt a good knob of butter in a saucepan and the flour. Mix well, before adding the reserved fishy milk (saving a little back for the mash). Add the bay leaf, grated nutmeg and gently warm through, stirring well. When the sauce has thickened add around 2/3 of the grated cheese. The sauce should be thick, smooth and glossy.
4. Mash the potatoes with a little melted butter and as much of the remaining fishy milk that you need. Season it well. The mash should be thick, rich and smooth.
5. Place the fish in an oval oven proof dish, pour over the cheesy sauce (removing the bay leaf) and mix it carefully together so all of the fish is well coated. Add the mash, either by gently spreading over the fish mixture, or spoon in dollops, like islands in the fishy sea.
6. Place in a pre-heated, moderate oven (around 200 degrees C /Gas mark 6) for around 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling up and the mash is lightly browned and crisp on the top.
7. Leave to cool a little before serving with some steamed seasonal greens and a chilled glass of white wine.
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