Fish pie without the faff – a tasty and nutritious fuss-free dish for the family

This one-pot gratin/pie hybrid is the best of both worlds

Smoked haddock gratin: delicious and easy to make

Smoked haddock gratin: delicious and easy to make

 

This time of year I’m looking for quick, tasty and nutritious dinners that can be assembled easily. Pies, stews and curries are some of my favourites. I love fish pies, but always feel like they’ll take too long to cook and involve too many steps, from preparing mashed potato to doing a roux and cooking the fish.

This one-pot gratin/pie hybrid is the best of both worlds. The smoked haddock gently cooks in the cream, flavouring the entire gratin. I parboil the potatoes so they only need 20 minutes in the oven. This can all be done ahead of time for an even speedier dinner. No need for a roux, as I just whisk Dijon mustard into a little cream and milk, making this the speediest pie ever.

I sometimes add sauteed onions or a layer of baby spinach. Sauteed mushrooms, prawns or peas can all be added to the filling too. Adding a handful of crispy bacon lardons to this dish gives it another delicious twist. The smoked fish is so good with bacon. Just be cautious when seasoning with salt as the bacon will give it plenty of flavour.

You can change things up a little with this pie by adding a pinch of garam masala or plenty of fresh dill. I’ve made it with blanched cauliflower florets instead of potato before and it was delicious too, almost like cauliflower cheese meets fish pie. A really gorgeous low-carbohydrate option. 

I’m always trying to include more fish in my diet. All too often it’s easy to get stuck in a beef or chicken rut, but fish can be really convenient also. Smoked haddock is one of my all-time favourites. It freezes really well too. It can be added to an omelette, chowder or gently folded into a white sauce with pasta. Haddock is one of the more sustainable fish available and it flakes beautifully once gently cooked.

Kedgeree is another of my favourite family-style dishes that I use smoked haddock in. It is a simple buttery curried rice with plenty of herbs and fish flaked through. Traditionally a breakfast dish, it makes a delicious dinner too. 

I’ve left the skin on the potatoes for this gratin. It crisps up and is coated in the cheesy topping once cooked. Aside from the fact that I don’t enjoy peeling potatoes, the skins are really nutritious. 

SMOKED HADDOCK GRATIN

Serves six

Ingredients 
900g potatoes  
1 tsp butter 
600g smoked haddock 
2 tbsp parsley 
2 spring onions, finely sliced 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
300ml cream 
100ml milk 
Salt and black pepper  
100g grated white mature Cheddar

Method

1 Scrub the potatoes clean. I never peel them as there’s so much goodness in the skin, but do as you prefer. Parboil them till almost cooked but still a little firm. You need to be able to slice them thickly so they need to remain a little undercooked. Drain and set aside. 

2 Rub a teaspoon of butter around the inside of an ovenproof dish. Cut the haddock into cubes and place in the base of the dish, scatter with parsley and the finely sliced spring onion. Season with salt and pepper.

3 Heat the milk, cream and Dijon mustard in a pan till warm, and whisk to combine. Pour half this mixture over the fish. 

4 Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them thickly. Arrange the potato slices over the fish and pour the remaining cream mix over the top. Season with a little salt. 

5 Scatter the cheese on top and bake in a hot oven, 220 degrees, for 20 minutes till golden, bubbling and cooked through. Serve with salad or greens such as broccoli or spinach.

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