I’ll start by apologising that this blog post is a little late for anyone looking for Good Friday inspiration, but make a note and perhaps it will come in handy next year.
Perfection is very personal, especially when it comes to food, but this recipe is a testament to how much I rate Felicity Cloake’s Guardian blog ‘How to Cook the Perfect…’ in which she spends a week researching and testing different recipes for classic dishes and then unpacks her findings online. For those unfamiliar, the structure of her writing is always the same. She picks four or five variations on a classic from well known food writers and chops each post into sections which focus on the various key building blocks of the dish in question. She then presents her ‘perfect’ recipe based on a week testing out various options on willing tasters. As you would expect, Felicity’s notion of ‘perfection’ is then supported and slandered in equal measure in the Guardian’s infamous ‘below the line’ section.
Her take on fish pie was how I first learnt to make the dish and after a couple of years of tweaking and tinkering I think I’m confident I’ve arrived at my idea of ‘perfection’. The key difference of my method to the more established way is to not pre-cook the diced fish before mixing with the pie sauce. For me, this leaves the fish in a far juicier state in the finished pie.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1kg floury potatoes, diced to 1cm cubes
- 100g butter, plus more for dotting
- 25g leeks, chopped fine
- Splash of milk
- 500ml good quality fish stock
- small bunch curly parsley, finely chopped
- 300g un-dyed smoke haddock
- 300g cod/coley/pollack
- 200g salmon
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 3 anchovy fillets, chopped fine
- 50g plain flour
- 150ml good double cream
GOOD FRIDAY FISH PIE
- Bring your diced potatoes to the boil in a deep pan of cold, salted water. Once thoroughly tender (about 25 minutes), drain, leave to stand and then pass through a ricer. Beat 50g butter into the spuds, add a generous pinch of salt and a splash of milk. Keep warm.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°c.
- Chop your fish into chunky pieces and place in a sturdy baking dish.
- Plate 50g butter in a pan with your leeks and a pinch of salt. Heat gently and cook until the leeks are soft, and transparent. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook this out for a further two minutes.
- Gradually add your hot stock, whisking each time until amalgamated and you have a smooth sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes gently, stirring every five minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley, anchovy and cream. Beat well to combine.
- Pour the sauce over your chopped fish and stir well to coat everything in the dish.
- Top with the mash and smooth evenly before decorating with a fork roughly as illustrated. Dot with butter and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
- Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
We enjoyed ours with buttered purple sprouting broccoli but kale, Spring Greens or a mountain of peas would be just as satisfying.