Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas British-ish Fish Pie

British-ish Fish Pie

Christmas was a bit turned about this year.  One of my sisters is in Louisville with the in-laws this year.   Since it was going to be a smaller gathering the day off, my mom was hosting but agreed to let me do the main.  Usually when it's a crowd, D will do a large roast beast of some sort.  Since it's me, I decided to do a dish I miss from my UK days and can't easily find outside the coziness of someone's home outside the UK.  I did 'fancy' it up a bit by adding Lobster since my uncle gives us a case of Lobster tails every year for Christmas.  By the look of the baking dish and how we usually eat other casseroles, I thought this would be good enough for 6 adults but really this could feed 10 since I did it in the deeper Creuset instead of a standard 12x9 pan.

British-ish Fish Pie

2 cup Vegetable or Fish Stock
3 cup Milk
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Flour
(If you are using a standard 'Lasagna' baking dish that is about 2inches deep, you can half the first four ingredients above.  I used a large Creuset baking dish that is the same size as a standard Lasagna pan but twice as deep. MORE room for Mash and goodness.)

400ml Heavy Cream (35%) (I bought a 500 ml carton and the rest is for the Mash)

2 Medium Lobster tails, uncooked
300-400 g Salmon
300-400 g Smoked Haddock or any white fish (no herbed or candied)
8-10 large Shrimp

1 small Onion
7 cloves
8 Black Peppercorns
3 sprigs of Thyme
1 T of Pernod (optional)
2 stalks Celery, minced (1/2 cup)
1medium Carrot, minced (1/2 cup)
1 medium Shallot, minced (1/4 cup)
Nutmeg, fresh

1 packet of frozen Spinach (1 lb), defrosted and drained in a sieve
3 - 4 Eggs, medium boiled (5 minutes), peeled, cooled and halved.

8 Potatoes (mashing, i.e. Russet), peeled and cubed
(The best way to estimate is to take the baking dish you plan to use and lay out the potatoes until full in one layer.  That should do for the amount of Mash you'll need with a little extra.)
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Cream
1- 1.5 tsp Salt
White Pepper to taste.
1/4 cup fresh chopped Parsley
Zest of 1 lemon.

You should start about 2-3 hours ahead minimum.  You can start 4-5 ahead if you want to take a pause.  You can make the Mash, Poach the fish and take a pause.

I don't like the taste of cooled off Mash so I don't start the Potatoes until an hour out.  But if you are trying to arrange the timing, the Potatoes need to boil covered in salted water in a large stock pot for at least half an hour until a fork goes easily through any piece.).  Drain the potatoes but leave in the pot.  Save some of the Potato water, about half a cup.  Throw in the Butter in chunks and the Cream and mash thoroughly with a Masher.  I try to mash until fluffy.  Season to taste with Salt and White Pepper. Add the potato water or more cream if they seem dry.  Set aside covered.

In a Braiser or large Pot, add the Milk and the Stock and bring to a simmer.   Pierce the Onion with the cloves and place in the braiser.  Leave the skin and shells on all fish and shellfish.  Place the Lobster, Smoked Haddock (remove the string) and the Salmon.  I place the Salmon on top and make sure the Lobster is in the liquid.  You may have to turn the lobster but it doesn't matter as the steam should cook it through.  Bring to a boil but immediately turn back down to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the shell is bright red.  Add the Shrimp for the last minute to just turn pink.  Turn off and set aside for at least half an hour.  Or right away if you want but the fish will be pretty hot to handle.

When the fish is cook enough to the touch, lift all the seafood out into a large bowl.  Strain the liquid and set aside.   Have a dish ready on the side to set the seafood you cut aside in 'groups'.  Remove the skin and the shells.  Cut all the fish into bite sized pieces.  I like it chunky so it doesn't end up tasting like tinned fish.  Take the leaves off another 3 sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over the fish and zest 1 lemon over top too. Set aside.

In the same braiser,  add the Butter on low heat.  Add the Celery, Carrot and the Shallot and sauté until slightly softened but not browned.  Sprinkle the flour over and mix constantly to prevent burning.  Lower the heat as needed.  You want to cook the flour through but you don't need to brown it like you're making a roux.  Just mix for about 5 minutes.  Grate some fresh Nutmeg over, like 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp depending on if you're doing the bigger sauce recipe, 5-6 passes on a rasp per 1/4 tsp ish.  And add some White Pepper to taste.  The only reason not to use black pepper is not to speckle the dish.  It will look lumpy and oatmealy.  That's fine.  Add the reserved braising liquid gradually while stirring with a whisk.  Add the Cream.  You can turn the heat up to medium as you're doing this.  Let it BRIEFLY come to a bubble/boil and immediately turn down and take off the heat completely if your burner stays hot longer.  It will thicken the instant it bubbles.  Whisk briefly, fast then set aside to cool.  You can let this cool completely if you want and set aside covered if you want to assemble at the very end.

Preheat the Oven to 400F or convection to 375.

In the baking dish, spread out the drained Spinach on the bottom.  You don't have to be too fussy about it.  Just spread out loosely with your fingers.  You can use fresh Spinach that you wilt in a pan with some oil or water if you prefer.  Spread out the fish evenly over the Spinach so that each type of seafood is equally positioned throughout, particularly the Lobster :D.  I hope you remembered to peel and take the tails off the Shrimp.  Sprinkle Parsley over top.

Dollop the sauce over top covering most of it before you start spreading.  Actually, I tried to just drop instead of disturbing the fish layer.  Once it's covered you can gently spread with a rubber spatula.  Place the halved boiled Eggs evenly throughout.  I like to put the cut side down.

Dollop big scoops of the Mash on top in positions like in a muffin tin so you don't disturb the lower layers.  Keep doing that with a spoon until it's all covered.  then you can try to even out.  If you like your Potatoes crispy, you can run over the top with a large serving fork to make furrows.

Place a liner under neath in the oven or place the dish on a tray in the oven.  Place small pats of butter over the Potatoes if you want.  I did.

Place in the oven covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10.  If you're not baking in a convect oven, covered for 30, uncovered for 10.

Serve warm with wedges of Lemon.


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