Once a week I teach cookery at the community centre where my husband works, it's an extremely rewarding experience as some of my pupils have various disabilities or learning difficulties which sometimes tend to hinder their mobility, and cooking can often be a time consuming task, despite these obstacles they are a hugely enthusiastic bunch that love to cook and do not shy away from any task I give them. Today's food of choice was none other than the great British Classic Fish pie. I think that for a lot of people fish pie is not well liked, which I think is a complete shame, though I do understand because fish pie is so often done wrong.
I know that after this recipe the salt police will be on my back, but I really have to make it clear that fish needs salt as does mash potato, if you do not season correctly, food tastes bland and all you will end up with is a pie dish full of wallpaper paste. Now that autumn is here, and winter is tapping him on the shoulder, it is time to enjoy these lovely hearty dishes, I have to say that this went down a storm, we even managed to package up our delicious pies to sell, they were sold in within fifteen minutes.
For the fish filling
500g of smoked un-dyed haddock
500g of haddock fillet
200g of raw king prawns, peeled and de-veined
700ml of whole milk
1 large white onion
4 bay leaves
4 tablespoons of chopped dill
4 tablespoons of fresh chopped chervil
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
180g pack of baby spinach
a handful of frozen peas
100g of butter
60g of plain flour
2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
100g of frozen peas
3 teaspoon of maldon salt
2 teaspoon of honey dijon mustard
For the mash
1kg of maris piper potatoes
100g of butter plus 1 tablespoon of butter
1 sliced leek
2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp white pepper
200ml of double cream
1 tablespoon of salt
I start by doing the mash potatoes, in a large pan of boiling water add the salt and the peeled chopped potatoes, cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are falling apart. Meanwhile fry the sliced leek in the tablespoon of butter and soften on a low heat. Drain the potatoes and pass them through a potato ricer. Beat in the butter, cream, nutmeg and pepper until super smooth then mix in the sauteed leek.
For the fish:
In a sauce pan bring the milk to a simmer with the onion, bay leaf, nutmeg, cloves and peppercorns in the milk to allow to infuse. Once just boiling remove from the heat. Place the fish into a baking tray, lay in one layer and top with the hot milk. Cover the fish and prawns with foil and place to one side to poach for at least half an hour.
Remove the fish and prawns from the milk and sieve the milk into a pan. In another sauce pan melt the butter and the flour together until it has created a rue, add a ladle full at a time of the sieved milk stirring vigorously so that no lumps are formed, carry on with this process until the milk is gone and the sauce is thick. Add the mustard, salt, herbs and frozen peas and turn off the heat. Flake the fish off the skin and place into your chosen baking dish, top this with the peas and prawns. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a tablespoon of butter, once cooked squeeze any excess water from the leaves. Scatter the spinach onto the fish and top with the sauce. Spread the mashed potato on top, working from the outside in, finally grated cheddar cheese onto of the mash for fish pie perfection.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees C.