Delia

Luxury Smoked-fish Pie

I first introduced this in 1978, but I've changed it into less of a family supper dish and into something more suitable for entertaining. Serve it with some sprigs of watercress for garnish, and I always think fish pie is lovely with fresh shelled peas.


Serves 6

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two and The Delia Collection: Fish.

Luxury Smoked-fish Pie
Ingredients
 8 oz (225 g) undyed smoked haddock fillet
 2 Manx boneless kipper fillets
 8 oz (225 g) Arbroath smokies
 8 oz (225 g) smoked salmon or smoked salmon trimmings
 15 fl oz (425 ml) whole milk
 1 bay leaf
 6 black peppercorns
 a few stalks fresh parsley
 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
 2 oz (50 g) butter
 2 oz (50 g) plain flour
 5 fl oz (150 ml) single cream
 2 large eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
 1 heaped tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and drained
 4 cornichons (baby gherkins), chopped
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
 a few sprigs fresh watercress, to garnish
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the topping:
 2 lb (900 g) Desirée potatoes
 2 oz (50 g) butter
 2 level tablespoons crème fraîche
 1 oz (25 g) Gruyère, finely grated
 1 level tablespoon finely grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
Equipment

You will also need an ovenproof baking dish measuring 9 inches (23 cm) square and 2 inches (5 cm) deep, buttered.

Method

First of all arrange the haddock in a baking tin, pour over the milk and add the bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley stalks, then bake, uncovered, on a high shelf of the oven for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, remove the skin from the kipper fillets and skin and bone the Arbroath smokies – the flesh will come off very easily. Then chop them into 2 inch (5 cm) pieces, along with the smoked salmon, if the slices are whole, then place all the prepared fish in a mixing bowl. 

Next, when the haddock is cooked, strain off the liquid and reserve it, discarding the bay leaf, parsley stalks and peppercorns. 

Then, when the haddock is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and flake the flesh into largish pieces, adding it to the bowl to join the rest of the fish.

Next make the sauce. Do this by melting the butter in the saucepan, stir in the flour and gradually add the fish liquid bit by bit, stirring continuously. When all the liquid is in, finish the sauce by gradually adding the single cream, then some seasoning, and simmer for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the chopped parsley.

Now add the hard-boiled eggs, capers and cornichons to the fish, followed by the lemon juice and, finally, the sauce. Mix it all together gently and carefully so as not to break up the fish too much, then taste and check the seasoning and pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Now, to make the topping, peel and quarter the potatoes, put in a steamer fitted over a large saucepan of boiling water, sprinkle with a dessertspoon of salt, put a lid on and steam until they are absolutely tender – about 25 minutes. Then remove the potatoes from the steamer, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan and cover with a clean tea cloth to absorb some of the steam for about 5 minutes. 

Now add the butter and crème fraîche and, on the lowest speed, use an electric hand whisk to break the potatoes up, then increase the speed to high and whip them up to a smooth, creamy, fluffy mass. Taste, season well, then spread the potatoes all over the fish, making a ridged pattern with a palette knife. 

Now finally sprinkle over the grated cheeses and bake on a high shelf in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is nicely tinged brown. 

Serve each portion garnished with the watercress.

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