Top Irish Chef’s Simple Recipe for the Perfect Fish Pie

Richard Corrigan is one of the biggest personalities in the London restaurant business, an old-school chef who loves to cook and entertain. He’s generous with his hospitality and his opinions, which he will happily share atBentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill.

Irish-born Corrigan is fun to be with but he’s deadly serious in the kitchen, with exacting standards and a fuse that can be a little short if people don’t work hard to meet them.

He cooked at Bentley’s — which traces its history to 1916 — as a young chef and loved it so much he went on to buy the restaurant in 2005. (More recently, he opened the pub-restaurantDaffodil Mulligan near the City financial district, and his fine-dining establishment is Corrigan’s Mayfair.)

Bentley’s is best-known for fabulous oysters but the fish pie comes a close second. The recipe serves four and the portions are very generous. I live alone and improvised a version for two. I have to say that I found it surprisingly straightforward, though i did take one huge short cut: I bought prepared mashed potato rather than boiling spuds and making my own.

The fish pie was delicious and I’d have been happy if served it in a restaurant. Here’s the recipe for Bentley’s Fish Pie.

Ingredients:

1kg (2.2lbs) fish fillets, including salmon, smoked haddock and white fish such as pollack and haddock; and prawns. (The smoked haddock trimmings will be used in the sauce.)
1.5kg floury potatoes (8-10 potatoes)
2 egg yolks

Sauce:
100g butter, plus a little extra for sweating the vegetables
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a sprig of thyme
150ml (5oz) of white wine
smoked haddock trimmings (see above)
2 pints milk
100g plain flour
1 tablespoon English mustard
a handful of chives and parsley chopped

To finish:
a little lemon juice
a handful of fresh breadcrumbs
a little grated Parmesan

Preparation:

Remove the skin from the fish and cut into bite-sized pieces, reserving the skin of the smoked haddock for the sauce.

To start the sauce, heat a little butter in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic and thyme and sweat until softened. Add the white wine and the smoked haddock trimmings and cook for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the milk and bring to just under the boil, then take the pan from the heat, pass the contents through a sieve into a bowl and keep it hot.

Melt the 100g of butter in a heavy saucepan, add the flour and cook over a low heat, stirring for 5 minutes. Pour the hot infused milk into the pan and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth and thick. Make sure you can’t taste the flour. If you can, let it cook gently for a little longer.

Whisk in the mustard and add the chives and parsley. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper and more mustard if you wish. 

Leave to cool down while you make the mash — it is best not to assemble the pie with hot sauce as it will cook the fish too quickly.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender. 

Drain in a colander and allow the potatoes to steam for a couple of minutes to rid them of excess moisture, then mash and season with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks.

Scoop the mash into a piping bag — it needs to be hot in order to pipe easily. (You can spoon on if you don’t have a bag.)

To assemble,  spoon a little of the sauce into the bottom of a pie dish. Arrange a selection of fish on top of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Completely cover with sauce, then pipe or spoon on the mash. Mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the top.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and cook for around 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter@richardvines and Instagram@richard.vines.

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