Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fisherman's Pie

Thanks to Crash Kitchen for this idea, although I made no effort to actually follow their recipe. I was skeptical of an English fish pie but this creamy concoction of smoked and fresh fish was a huge hit. It's basically a shepherd's pie but with fish and a bechamel. For the topping, I tried the latest "perfect mashed potatoes" method from the OCD folks at Cook's Illustrated. You steam the peeled, cubed potatoes for 10-15 minutes, rinse them in cold water, and then steam them anotgher 20 minutes until mashable, then rice them. The result really is some insanely light, fluffy mash that's perfect for a dish like this. This method is also fasterand easier - the riced potatoes incorporate with no effrt and you don't have to wait for a pot of water to boil (just a feew cups in the steamer). Any fish will work as long as some is smoked. In fact, using pimenton (smoked paprika) in the sauce might even make up for having no smoked fish.

Ingredients: 8 med. potatoes (about 2 lbs), 1/2 stick butter, 1 15 oz can of mackerel (large bones removed and "dark meat" fed to Marcel), 1 lbs smoked fish (I smoked some whiting fillets out back and used a can of Trader Joe's smoked trout I had opened earlier for a snack), 1 leek, 4 shallots, 3/4 lbs of peas or green beans, 2 cups milk, 3 tbsp. flour (Wondra is best), Worcestershire sauce, paprika and pepper to taste

  • Make mashed potatoes with 1/4 stick of butter; set aside
  • Melt 1/4 stick butter butter on low heat in saucepan
  • Whisk in flour and add leeks and shallots; saute a while
  • Add milk and seasoning. Some people say to use warm milk, but I just crank up the heat and whisk it to death
  • Add a 10 oz block of frozen vegetables such as peas or green beans (I used blanched fresh green beans because they were already in the fridge) and the fish (if your fish is raw, dice it and throw it in. If cooked, simply break apart.
  • Pour sauce in greased casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes
  • Bake at 375 for 30 minutes
  • Eat right away or somebody else will

Serves 6-9 (depending on whether Dave and Heather are over and have seconds and thirds)

Frugal Factor: As prepared, this is a really frugal dish. You could go all out with cream instead of bechamel and something other than the two cheapest fish at the grocery store, but I'm not sure if it could get much tastier. 15 0z can mackeral, $1.10; 1 lbs whiting, $3.00 (plus the cost of some wood for smoking); frozen peas, $1.25; $0.35 for 2 cups milk; $0.35 for 1/2 stick butter ($2.79/lbs at TJ's - wow); $1.60 for 2 lbs potatoes; $1.50 for the leek, shallots and spices. At $9.15 for 6 servings, thats $1.53/serving.

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