99. Smoked Haddock, Bacon & Pea Pie
If I post too many dishes containing cream and puff pastry send someone round to haul me out with a crane and tie me up with gastric bands. In my defence my family have got me on dry November so I've got to have something to look forward to each day.
This is a really simple, deeply satisfying pie that can be easily changed according to the contents of your fridge.
Serves 4 really, or 2 with seconds and leftovers
2 smoked haddock fillets (about 250g total)
300ml whole milk
1 large bay leaf
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, sliced thinly and rinsed
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
30g plain flour
300ml hot chicken stock
200g frozen peas, defrosted
1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
30ml double cream
1 egg, separated
1 ready rolled puff pastry sheet
2tsp poppy seeds
First of all put the fish in one layer, skin side down in a shallow pan and pour over the milk. Season with salt and pepper, pop in a bay leaf and the smashed garlic, and bring to a simmer. Leave on a very low heat for 2 minutes then turn the fish over and after 1 more minute remove from the heat and leave to infuse and cool a little.
Meanwhile melt the butter in a largeish saucepan and cook the bacon in it until it has coloured to golden then add the onion and 1tsp salt and cook for another minute to soften. Next add the leeks and thyme and cook on a medium-low heat, covered, for about 5 minutes stirring now and again until they are soft. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, still on a low heat, for another couple of minutes to cook out the flour.
Remove the haddock and strain the milk into a jug to remove the garlic. Peel the skin from the fish and feel for any bones that need removing, then remove them. Obvs.
A bit at a time add the milk to the leeks, stirring continuously to get rid of any lumps, then add the stock in the same way until you have a lovely smooth sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring often, then turn off the heat and add the peas, parsley, cream and fish and gently fold together. This will be enough to break the fish into juicy chunks without it disintegrating. Taste and season; the consistency should be that of thick custard. Pile the mix into a shallow 23cm pie dish and leave somewhere cool for half an hour or so. Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Brush the edges of the casserole with the egg white then lay the pastry on top and squish onto the sides of the dish to form a seal, trimming off any excess. Brush the top with the egg yolk, scatter with poppy seeds and cut a small slash in the centre of the pie. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until deeply golden.