Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Deconstructed Fish Pie

The Boy and I are currently digging ourselves out of a hole. We have a problem but we’re working our way through it. The truth is... we have a glut of potatoes. This is partly thanks to my dear father who is a talented and enthusiastic home-grower. He doesn’t just grow vegetables; he grows crops. Where a typical gardener might grow three tomato plants, he grows twenty and deals with the consequences of his massive stockpile later (when they ripen). Being the generous man that he is, I will often come away from a visit to see my parents with my tummy full of tea and my arms full of the latest harvest. This week, it was potatoes which were added to our already bulging potato larder.

Funnily enough, the boy and I don’t eat that much potato. I suppose I see it as a winter staple – comfort food which fills and warms you in one hearty mouthful. Truth be told, I lean towards rice and pasta when I think of carbohydrates as they tend to suit my style of cooking more. Plus, the hot weather that we’ve been afforded of late hasn’t exactly had me reaching for my masher. Belated April showers are now returning to the UK so I have no excuse not to tackle our potato mountain. My mind is full of recipes and ideas for soups, bakes and other potato-based creations like gnocchi. You can expect a bit of a theme from my blog for the next week or so!

Last night, I fancied fish for dinner and with my latest obsession, I immediately thought of fish pie. Hunks of delicious fish and seafood in a thick, creamy sauce nestled below fluffy but crispy topped mash. Glorious food but rather time consuming when you take the whole process into account. So instead, I went for a quicker option which includes many of the traditional classic features but can be thrown together in a fraction of the time.


‘Deconstructed’ Quick Fish Pie
or Poached Smoked Haddock with prawns and mustard mash
Serves two

1 large fillet of smoked haddock, skin on
100g shell-on cooked prawns
3 floury potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
100ml semi-skimmed milk
50ml dry white vermouth
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp whole-grain mustard

- Boil the potatoes for 20 – 25 minutes or until tender.
- Meanwhile, shell the prawns. Put the prawns on one side and place the shells in a large saucepan with the bay leaf and peppercorns. Cover with the milk and vermouth. Add the haddock fillet skin-side down and top up with a little cold water until it is covered by the liquor.
- When the potatoes are almost tender, put the haddock onto a medium heat and gently simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes through a colander then place back in the pan and mash until they become a little dry. Add the butter and mash again.
- Check the haddock by removing with a slotted spoon. If it is nicely flakey and hot all the way through, remove from the poaching liquor and put on one side.
- Drain the poaching liquor through a sieve and add 1 tbsp of it to loosen the mash. Stir the mash vigorously and add more liquor if necessary. Add the mustard and stir in with a spoon.
- Carefully peel the skin from the haddock.
- To serve, place a dollop of mash onto the plate and top with the haddock then a few prawns. Pour a little of the poaching liquor over if you wish. Serve with seasonal vegetables.

The portion might look a little small but we had a few scallops each to start. Again, I kept it simple by frying finely chopped chorizo until it oozed spicy oils and then added the scallops to fry for a few minutes on each side. Once they were done, I took them out and added a splash of balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice to make a sauce to serve.
I then used the same plan to flash fry some blanched asparagus that we had with the haddock which infused it with a lovely flavour.

There’s no rest for the wicked - I’m off to make gnocchi and a leek and potato soup with the last of the poaching liquor!

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