Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Cullen Skink (NOT Cullen Skank) Pies with Mash Tops

Dive in and say mmmmmm
How lush is smoked haddock? Even people who aren't that keen on regular fish, complaining that it's too 'fishy', often succumb to the gentle smokey saltiness of a decent piece of smoked haddock. I once made a bit of a fool of myself at a fish counter, asking if they had any un-dyed specimens, turning my nose up at the artificial neon yellow ones on display. "Madam, it's only turmeric that colours them you know..." Oh alright then. Whoops. Anyway, I for one find it very comforting, it goes well with gentle stodge, rice in kedgeree for example and mashed potatoes in this recipe which is basically a fish pie, but only with smoked haddock, in a velvety creamy white wine sauce, spiked with chopped chives to add a little interest. Cullen skink is a traditional Scottish soup; here it is thickened up and a roof of mash turns it into a pie. Of sorts.

Serves 4. Preheat the oven to 200c. Peel two large potatoes, cut into chunks and boil until tender, then drain. Poach approx. 600g smoked haddock fillet (if skinless then cut into chunks before poaching, if not poach as it is and peel the skin off after cooking, it's very easy) in a deep frying pan by pouring over enough milk to cover it and a few bay leaves and peppercorns thrown in for aromatic goodness. Cover and bring the milk to a simmer, let it bubble for 4 minutes then turn off the heat and leave to cool for a bit. If the haddock is skinless and in chunks, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving the milk (discard bay leaves and peppercorns), and if it has skin, remove with a slotted spoon and peel the skin off and gently flake. Feel for bones as you do this to save anyone having a nice choke at the dinner table. Make a roux by melting a decent chunk of butter in a small pan, into this briskly stir in a heaped tablespoon of plain flour. Keep stirring and gradually incorporate a splash of white wine and most of the reserved milk. Keep stirring on the heat until thickened. Season, stir in a hand full of chopped chives and gently fold in the fish. Mash the spuds with plenty of seasoning, a knob of butter and a splash of milk. Spoon the fish mixture into 4 individual pie dishes or one big one, allowing enough milky wine to make it saucy, but not so much that the haddock is swimming again. Top with mash, a light dusting of paprika (mostly to make it a bit pretty) and a little bit of grated cheese if you wish. Serve with plenty of greens.

I would recommend you eat this not too far from bed as it is as comforting as a bed time story multiplied by hot water bottles and cocoa.

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