I spent last Sunday night at my mother's place. I decided that as she had looked after my children for the week, I would make at least two meals in return for the favour. The first meal on Saturday night was home-made pizza, and the second meal was this Fish Pie.
I found the recipe for this pie, some time ago, in Nigel Slater's appetite and kept waiting for the exact right time to make it. Well, the exact right time should really have been Good Friday, however we had to go to a birthday party and not being strict observers we ate what was on offer, which happened to include non-fish dishes.
So I took the next opportunity and late Sunday afternoon, started work on this pie. It uses smoked cod, mussels and some gorgeous big prawns that mother bought. Being the wonderful comfort food that it is of course it used some creamy mash potato. I decided to combine my mash potato with some mashed pumpkin as well. I also embellished the top of the pie, with some left over baby mozzarella, and anchovies from the previous evening's pizza toppings.
It was a lovely meal, served simply with the peas, and I managed to cut down on the time consuming steps by using some frozen New Zealand mussel meat rather than the fresh ones in the shell. I think it is to be enjoyed with a lovely musty white wine, but not that night unfortunately for us.
I thought that this pie was a rather heavier and more comforting version of the seafood chowder I made not long ago. Except you bake it and put the potato on to much like a cottage/shepherd's pie. I have decided my winter repertoire will have to include either of these dishes from now on as they certainly satisfy my desire for seafood and lots of it. I probably get the seafood urge about every eight to twelve weeks - and it has to be a seafood marinara - blanc of course, or now the chowder or the pie.
Recipe (adapted from Nigel Slater's appetite)
Mussels (500g frozen NZ mussel meat) white wine ( a glass full) smoked cod 1 kg bay leaves 2-3 milk 500ml butter 50g plain flour 4 tablespoons parsley green prawns 500g peeled
potatoes - 4 large butter
I defrosted and cooked my mussel meat in the white wine for about 5 minutes. Remove the mussels and reserved the white wine.
Put the smoked cod into a saucepan with the bay leaves and added milk and some water to cover the fish. I brought the fish and milk to the boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Test the fish by seeing if the flesh can be easily pulled from the skin and then remove the fish from the milk and pulled the flesh apart into large chunks, check for and remove bones and skin. Set the fish aside and reserve the milk.
Peel the potatoes, and cut into large chunks. Boil the potatoes in some salted water till they can be pierced easily with a fork. Mash the potatoes adding some butter and the reserved fish cooked milk, mash till fluffy. I also mashed some pumpkin and combined it with some potato to give it some structure.
Melt some butter in large pot (suitable for the oven and stovetop) Stir in the flour, letting it cook over a low to moderate heat until it is biscuit coloured and nutty. Pour in the wine reserved from cooking the mussels, and the rest of the milk from the smoked cod, then leave to simmer with a regular stir to stop it catching, for ten minutes.
Turn on the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Add the fish, mussels and prawns to the large pot and grind in lots of black pepper, check seasoning and add some sea salt if necessary. Add some finely chopped Italian parsley - I like lots.
Pile the mash on top of the fish mixture. It will sink a little, but the top can be smoothed with the flat side of a spoon.
I topped mine with a few anchovies and the baby mozzarella and baked for about 50 minutes. It is to be expected that the luscious seafood sauce will ooze and bubble to the top of the pie.