Smoked haddock and fennel pie

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I’m always on the lookout for fish dishes for Pete that seem easy to make, and The Guardian and The Telegraph are my favourite places to scout for them. I adore Wednesdays and Thursdays in The Guardian (because of Angela Hartnett on Wednesdays and Felicity Cloake on Thursdays), and Stevie Parle in The Telegraph (although I’m not as certain about when the recipes appear in the newspaper). I read all the recipes, doable and otherwise, and print off a good few of them. However, my record with making them isn’t as good as my record with printing them, and definitely nowhere near as good as my record at reading them. I suppose I consider myself up on the deal if I manage to make one recipe for every dozen printed off. This was one of those that made it from newspaper to printout to plate.

Ingredients:

1/2 kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tbsp butter
1.5 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla) – optional
small bunch of parsley leaves, leaves and stalks separated (retain the stalks)
350g smoked undyed haddock fillet
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped or sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Put the potatoes in a large pan of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash till smooth. Stir in 1 tbsp butter and season generously with pepper. Cover and keep aside.

2. In a wide pan, heat the milk with the bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley stalks. Bring the milk to a simmer, then add the haddock fillet skin side down. Cut the haddock fillet in half if necessary, to fit into the pan.

3. Simmer the fillets in the milk for 5 minutes, spooning the hot milk over often, if the fillets are not entirely submerged in the milk. The fish is done when the top looks like it is “separating” into flakes. The flakes will seem defined.
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4. Remove the fillets in one piece if possible to a plate, using a slotted spoon. Remove the skin (it will come off easily)
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and flake the fish (it will fall apart easily).
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Place the flaked fish in a 7″ casserole dish and arrange the quartered eggs on top.

5. Strain the milk in which the fish was cooked, discarding the solids. Stir in the fish sauce, and reserve till required.

5. In another saucepan, heat the remaining tbsp of butter with the olive oil. Gently fry the fennel until softened (about 7 minutes). Stir in the flour and let it cook for about a minute, then slowly pour in the milk in which the fish was cooked. Stir constantly over medium heat until the milk thickens to the consistency of double cream.

6. Season with more black pepper powder and stir in the chopped parsley and peas. Cook for another minute, adding about 2 tbsp more milk if the sauce looks like thickening too much.

7. Pour the sauce over the eggs and fish, making sure to cover the fish. Spoon the mashed potato over the top and smooth the surface. Dot with more butter (if liked) and place in the hot oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden on top.
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Let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve hot along with a selection of roasted veg (parsnip, carrots, cauliflower) and steamed green beans.

Verdict: Pete loved this version of fisherman’s pie, because he said the flavours went so well together.

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