Spring is a great time for fish pie. This warming dish will get you through the last of the long evenings, while you wait for the clocks go forward.

Some people take a conservative approach to this dish, but I think that a bit of cheese in the mash topping goes down a treat—and it’s one of the few dinners where I condone ketchup on the plate, too.

Serve with a big bowl of green peas or steamed leeks, and enjoy the luxury of proper comfort food. Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 750g potatoes (King Edward)
  • 300g cod (see chef ’s note below)
  • 200g smoked haddock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 500ml milk
  • 40g butter
  • 40g plain flour
  • Seasoning: 1tsp mustard, squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper
  • 120g Cheddar, grated
  • 25g butter
  • You'll also need a pie dish: 20 x 28cm

fish pie

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks. Put them in a pan of salted water, then bring to the boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes.
  3. Put the fish in a small saucepan with the bay leaf and peppercorns, and pour the milk over. Bring it to the boil, and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Gently poach for 5–6 minutes, then strain the poaching milk into a jug. Discard the bay leaf and peppercorns, and flake the fish into a pie dish.
  4. Rinse the pan used for the fish, and melt the butter in it. Add the flour. Stir and cook for 45 seconds on a very gentle heat.
  5. Start adding the poaching milk—one tablespoon at a time to start with, stirring as you go—and then in bigger sloshes. Once all the milk has been added, simmer for 1–2 minutes, stirring the whole time.
  6. Season the white sauce with mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into the pie dish and fold the fish through it. Set aside to settle.
  7. Drain the potatoes and mash in the butter and three-quarters of the grated cheese. Spoon the mash on top of the fish pie, and then use the back of a spoon to push it into a pie lid.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Put the pie on a tray and bake for 25 minutes.

Read more: A-Z of white fish

 

Chef's note

People have long been wary about cooking with cod, but it came off the conservation “red list”18 months ago. It’s a lovely white fish for a pie, though there are lots of lesser-known varieties, which also have firm white flesh—such as pollock, coley or whiting.

Adding an additional smoked fish, such as haddock, enhances the flavour and savouriness.

 

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