Hands up who has a dish they’ve made so many times they could do it with their eyes closed. Well, my smoked haddock pie is one such dish – It’s been a regular feature on my menu for near on a decade and it never fails to please. It’s one of the cunning ways I can slip fish into my husbands diet;) However, coming back and forth between Chicago and London over the past few months has seriously affected my food routine so it’s actually been a while since I made this simple but unexpectedly lovely dish. I think it’s the sauce that sets it apart from other fish pies – in fact, this was confirmed for me last night when I served it to my Brother-in-law and his first question was about the sauce (never fails to warm my cockles when someone likes what I’ve cooked). Of course you can buy tomato mascarpone sauce in jars and I have tried it this way a handful of times but it’s just not the same as making your own. Besides, it really is as easy as pie. Fish pie that is.
Anyway, when you’re floating between kitchens things have a tendency to go wrong. You can forget what dish you should be cooking at which particular temperature and in which particular oven and then you’ve got to deal with celsius and farhenheit. Add to that the pleasure of forgetting what utensils you have in each respective kitchen, shopping for a specific dish only to discover it’s the London one which doesn’t have a muffin tin! It’s not peculiar to kitchenware either. I’ve spent hours hunting through my closet for a dress, which is sitting in a wardrobe half way across the globe. I distinctly remember cursing right, left and center when I couldn’t find an eyeshadow, adament I had brought it with me only to discover it happily sitting in my make-up case when I returned. Almost mocking me it was.
Where was I? Oh yes! So, whilst my pie was declared a success by Hubbie and Brother-In-Law (who had just the previous night eaten in a Michelin starred restaurant in Milan. Tough crowd!) I wasn’t completely happy with it. I will be the first to admit that I’m a hopeless perfectionist, which is and always has been the bane of my life. It is the reason I’m not very good at flat sharing – other than with my Hubbie, of course – the reason I like to clean my own kitchen(even when kind people offer after a dinnerparty), basically the reason I like to do everything myself. Because, let’s face it, if you want something done properly you’ve got to do it yourself, right? I’m working on this aspect of my personality, so far it’s been an uphill struggle!
Anyway, my pie was good. I know it was good. It just wasn’t perfect and because I’ve perfected this recipe how this could have happened I do not know. I have my suspicions mind you so here’s what I would do differently: I think the oven was slightly too hot, therefore (note to self) – in London kitchen put the haddock pie in at 200 degrees not 220. Use half a can of blitzed tomatoes instead of a full can. Add an egg yolk to the potato when mashing. That should do it. Next time, it will be perfect, it will!!!!!
400g smoked haddock
200g canned tomatoes
200g frozen peas
3 large potatoes
tablespoon horseradish sauce
knob of butter
splash milk or cream or both!
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.
Peel and cut potatoes into smallish chunks, put in a large pan, salt and boil for 15-20 mins.
In a frying pan empty in blitzed canned tomatoes (I use my handblender) along with sugar and seasoning. Heat gently and then add mascarpone. I give the mascarpone a stir in the carton before tipping it into the tomato sauce. Gently stir – with a little coaxing it will eventually melt into the tomato and create a beautiful creamy orange sauce. Taste, season and gently simmer.
Chop the haddock into decent sized chunks and spread evenly in the bottom of a casserole dish.
I put my frozen peas in a bowl and cover them with boiling water from a kettle. I have in the past emptied the frozen peas directly onto the haddock but it brings the temperature of the pie down too much and you end up with a luke warm pie – well I certainly do because I’m terrified of overcooking my fish and never leave it in longer than 30mins. After a few minutes drain and add them to the casserole dish along with the haddock.
When the potatoes are done, drain and mash. I use a knob of butter, seasoning and a splash of both milk and cream. In the future I’ll be adding an egg yolk at this stage too, something I often do to mash I’m using for pies, it gives it a beautiful golden colour when baked. I mash vigorously before stirring in the horseradish. The horseradish gives the potato such a kick and goes extremely well with the smoked haddock so it really isn’t optional. I try and get every lump out but sometimes it isn’t possible so just do your best.
Your sauce, which will have been gently simmering away – don’t let it boil – should now be ready to pour over the peas and haddock. If you think there’s too much sauce (i’ve ammended the recipe though so you shouldn’t have any problems) then don’t use it all. You could always keep some for pasta!
Finally, top pie with the potato and smooth with the back of a fork. You could brush with an eggwash but I didn’t. Then pop in the oven and bake for 25-30mins.
Don’t let it sit for too long as it doesn’t retain its heat very well. I guarantee once you’ve tried this you’ll immediately add it to your menu.