A quick and versatile fish dish, adaptable to everybody’s taste

What’s for dinner: Try this haddock with Parmesan and leek gratin

Caitlin Ruth’s haddock, Parmesan and leek gratin.

Caitlin Ruth’s haddock, Parmesan and leek gratin.

 

I left the restaurant business and started the food truck, I’ve had a lot more time to cook dinner in the evenings, because my work schedule has become gloriously unpredictable.

Quick and easy generally isn’t my thing, but this idea for a speedy dinner was given to me by my best friend’s mom, Chris, who used to feed me a lot when I was a teenager and is a great cook. Like a lot of recipes (and songs) that have turned out to be my favourites, I thought this sounded weird until I tried it, but a version of it became a big hit on the menu in Deasy’s.

Feel free to swap out some of the ingredients – fennel or kale work well instead of leek. Any other white fish can be swapped out for the haddock, and if dill is not your thing, parsley, tarragon, chives, fennel or lovage are good options.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily tweak it to make a fancier dinner party dish. Note: if you’re not eating bread – just leave off the crumb element and it’s still a complete dish. Serve on mash for a comforting supper, or with new potatoes and green veg. It’s also great baked in individual baking dishes to serve straight to the table.

Caitlin Ruth, formerly of Deasy’s Restaurant, is a chef with a food truck based in west Cork.

Caitlin Ruth’s haddock, Parmesan and leek gratin

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 medium to large leek, washed well and finely sliced
100g butter (divided 75g/25g)
300g skinned and boned haddock fillets
75g finely grated Parmesan
200ml cream
Salt and pepper
1 handful breadcrumbs
Large pinch fennel seed, roughly chopped (optional)
1 lemon: half the zest and a generous squeeze of juice
1 Pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
1 handful fresh dill, washed and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped (optional)

Method

1 Fry the leeks on medium heat with 25g butter, season with salt and pepper, cook until soft but still bright green.

2 Spread the leeks into a shallow baking dish, something that the fish will fit into with approximately a half-inch around it.

3 Rinse the fish gently and pat dry, then place onto the leeks, season with salt and pepper, a small pinch of chilli flakes, fennel seed, and a good squeeze of lemon.

4 Sprinkle the finely grated Parmesan all over the fish and the visible leeks, top with the cream, set aside.

5 Stir 75g melted butter into the breadcrumbs, along with the chopped dill, garlic, pinch chilli flakes, and lemon zest.

6 Pile the buttered crumb mix onto the fish fillets, and bake in a 180 degree oven on the top shelf for about 20 minutes. Because the fillets might be of varying thicknesses, an easy way to see if they’re done is to slide a knife into the thickest part, peek in and see if the fish is opaque. If it is, it’s done.

7 Serve on mash for a comforting supper, or with new potatoes and green veg.

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