Smoked Haddock and Spinach Fish Pie

Hopefully spring is truly on its way but there is still a lot of chilly weather and what I want to eat is food with mashed potato. This is a lovely fish pie, just smoked haddock and spinach with a Dijon mustard-seasoned parsley sauce and a couple of hard-boiled eggs. Definitely a fish pie amongst fish pies and that’s saying something.

Serves 4
Prep: 45 min
Cook: 60 min

2 eggs
100g baby spinach
350-450g naturally smoked haddock
150ml milk
250ml water
2 bay leaves
30g butter
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
25g flat leaf parsley

for the mash:
600g potatoes
20g butter
150ml milk
2 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

Boil the eggs for 9 minutes. Crack all over and remove the shell immersed in cold water. Place the spinach in a mixing bowl or saucepan and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Leave for a couple of minutes to wilt, then tip into a colander to drain and cool. Squeeze dry and coarsely chop. Cook the fish almost immersed in a bath of 150ml milk and 250ml water seasoned with a couple of bay leaves. Start the cooking with the fish skin-side down, cutting fillet in 2 or 3 pieces if necessary so it can be cooked in a single layer. Simmer gently for 8 minutes then use a fish slice to turn the fish to cook the other side for a further 5 minutes. Carefully drain the liquid into a measuring jug, discarding the bay and leave the fish to cool slightly before using a knife and fork to lift and remove the skin. Break the fish into hefty bite-size pieces, taking care to remove any bones. Place in your chosen pie dish – this time I used a sloping 9cm deep, 23cm diameter round Provencale dish but normally would chose a 26cm by 5cm deep gratin dish. Chop the egg and scatter it over the top followed by the spinach. To make the béchamel, melt 30g butter in a medium saucepan and off the heat quickly stir in 1 tbsp flour followed by 1 tbsp mustard. Add the fish cooking liquid and any liquid left in the cooking pan, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or globe whisk if it turns lumpy. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer gently, stirring for 5 minutes to cook the flour. Chop the parsley leaves and stir them into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the fish to cover. Leave to cool and set.

While the pie filling cools, peel, chunk, boil the potatoes tender in salted water. Drain into a colander, place butter and milk in the potato pan and when the butter has melted return the potatoes and mash smooth. I use a mouli-legumes mill for a super-smooth mash and I’d recommend buying one. Spoon the mash over the pie and use a fork to work from the outside towards the middle making swirls with a fork. Leave to cool then dust with Parmesan mixed with breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet (in case of spillage) and cook at 200C/gas mark 6 for about 25 minutes or until the top is burnished and golden.