Thursday, February 07, 2013

NEW SKILLS: COOKING JO PRATT'S FISH PIE

When I was little my parents could only have fish pie if I was out of the house for the evening. I really, really hated it. Even the residual smell when I returned would make me gag.

Now, though ... well. I'm a bit more grown up. I can just about eat a prawn without thinking about its wife, children and the fact that its diet consists of little more than poop.  Making a fish pie is a bit of a milestone for me.

And I made one last night.

I've had the In the Mood For Food for years. I bought it because it had a nice pattern and she looked pretty but the recipes all looked a bit grown up for me.I did want to do the pomegranet salad: it's photographed in such a lovely little lunchbox, though, that I got distracted by wanting an equally lovely lunchbox too and the salad was forgotten. Discovering this little gem nestled inside has made all those years of moving it from house to house worth it.

I have to say, this recipe was easy and ridiculously tasty. The sauce was thick and silky and totally lumpless - I couldn't believe I made it. The topping is made by grating the potatoes (I got Rob to do that), squeezing all the moisture out through a tea-towel and then cooking it off for a few minutes in butter before scattering the top.  I'd never even heard of that method.  My repertoire is definitely expanding.

And this is it on my plate with some peas.


And here's the recipe.

Fish Pie with Sweet Potato topping (although I used White) from Jo Pratt's In the Mood For Food
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 bunches spring onions, sliced
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 400 ml milk
  • 500 g cod, coley or haddock fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 200 g cooked tiger prawns
  • 150 g smoked salmon, cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill, or parsley
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only
  • squeeze lemon juice
For the topping
  • 700 g sweet potatoes, peeled - I used white potatoes in exactly the same way.
  • 40 g butter
  • 50 g matured cheddar cheese, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the spring onions and cook until softened. Stir in the flour, and cook for about 30 seconds before gradually adding the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until you have smooth thick sauce.

3. Stir in the white fish, prawns, smoked salmon, dill or parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Once the sauce is bubbling and the cod is starting to flake a little, remove from the heat.

4. Spoon into a large 1.5-1.8 litre pie dish or 4 individual dishes and leave to cool while you prepare the topping.

5. For the topping: coarsely grate the sweet potato. Place in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess water.

6. Melt the butter in a pan and add the grated potato. Stir over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until the potato is coated in butter and starting to soften.

7. Scatter the potato over the top of the pie, leaving a rough topping rather than pressing it down. Sprinkle over the grated cheese.

8. Place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden and the filling is starting to bubble over the edges.

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