Here is a extra special creamy fish pie for Easter an ooh and aah moment at your Easter celebrations. Everyone loves a pie and because they take a bit of extra time to make we don’t make them so often hence the oohs and aaahs. This one is extra special with leeks, smoked fish, prawns and eggs.
Making a white sauce:
It is so simple to make a white sauce using the microwave method and much easier to get rid of lumps. Add some extra butter at the end and I can’t really tell the difference. If you don’t agree I have included the instructions to make it with a roux ie melting butter, stirring in the flour and then whisking in the hot milk. It seems a palaver to me but I guess it isn’t if you are used to doing it this way and take a hard line on the ‘right’ way to do things!
If you want to make it ahead of time just cool it quickly and open freeze. When it is frozen you can protect it with a freezer bag. To eat the pie take it out of the freezer in plenty of time for it to defrost and then cook as before.
I’m having a large family gathering this year so I’ll be making this ahead of time to leave lots of time for chocolate Easter egg eating. Got to get your priorities sorted after all.
CREAMY FISH PIE
1 medium leek
100g butter (50g for leeks/50g for sauce & extra for mashed potatoes)
600ml full fat milk (this needs to be hot if you are making the roux based sauce)
1 bay leaf
3 or 4 whole black pepper corns
Small bunch flat leaf parsley, separated into stalks and leaves
500g firm white fish i.e. Pollock/cod (skin on preferably for flavour)
200g smoked white fish i.e. undyed haddock (skin on)
200g small, cooked, prawns in shell*
2 tbsp. corn flour
(4 tbsp. double cream-optional)
2 large eggs, lightly boiled, peeled and quartered
1kg floury potatoes i.e. Maris piper or King Edwards
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Take off the outer tougher leaves of the leek and slice the rest. Sauté gently in half of the butter and a splash of water and leave on one side. Take care they don’t burn.
- Heat the milk in a medium sauce pan with the bay leaf, pepper corns and parsley stalks and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the white fish and the smoked fish and gently simmer for 10 minutes or until it is just cooked. Try not to break it up too much. Lift out with a slotted spoon onto a plate and remove the skin if necessary. Strain the cooking liquid carefully.
- Now make the white sauce: I use the microwave method:
Put 2 tbsp. of corn flour into a plastic jug-use a large one or it will boil over. Add a little of the milk and whisk with a balloon whisk to get rid of any lumps. Add the rest of the milk and whisk again. Cook in the microwave for 3 mins, take it out and whisk again. Repeat after 2 minutes and then after another 2 minutes -don’t make the sauce too thick it should just cover the back of a spoon. Add the chopped parsley leaves and the rest of the butter (and cream if you are using) and put on one side.
If you want to make a traditional roux based sauce; melt 50g butter in a heavy based pan, add the corn flour. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the hot milk whisking all the time to prevent any lumps. When it is all added return to the pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring all the time. Taste the sauce and if it is still ‘floury’ simmer for a little longer. Add the chopped parsley leaves. However you make the sauce don’t make it too thick as you will end up with a very solid pie filling.
- Break the fish into large pieces and lay in an ovenproof dish (Approx. 1ltr/1 ½ ltr)
- Drain the leeks and scatter over the fish (it is important to get rid of excess water/juice so it doesn’t dilute the sauce). Add the cooked, peeled prawns and the quarters of egg. Leave to cool.
- Boil the potatoes in a large pan until soft. Drain well. Put a clean tea towel over the pan and leave to steam for 5 minutes. Mash with a little butter and milk and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add extra milk if necessary to make a soft, spreadable mash.
- Preheat the oven to 200C, Gas 6. Spoon or pipe the mashed potato over the filling. I used a large piping bag and a large open, star nozzle to get a better finish. You need to let the mash cool a little before you pipe it but not too long as it ‘sets’ and then it’s hard to push through the bag.
- If not piping use a fork to make deep swirls on the top of the pie. This will give you some crispy edges and some softer topping. Bake for about 40 minutes until the top is golden and the filling bubbling.
- Serve with spring greens, a simple salad or purple sprouting broccoli.
*Cooked prawns in their shells have a much better flavour than those you can buy ready peeled.