Top tips for winter warming fish pies

The fragrance of a fish pie brings me back to my childhood. Here are a few twists on this classic too. 
 
No fish has found itself in a more soothing dish than a warming, steaming fish pie. Fluffy, cheesy mashed spuds give way to moist fish and a rich, creamy sauce. My mum is a great cook and I have such fond memories of the fabulous fish pie she would make for our family. The sweet smell would waft up to my room as it baked, that heady mixture of fish, potatoes and plenty of cream.
 
Traditionally a fish pie has a mashed potato topping, which is perfect for soaking up the creamy juices below. Piping the mashed potato over the top would give it the ultimate retro look, but carefully spooning it on is easier and a little more up to date.
 
Of course you don't always need to add potatoes and this fish gratin recipe doesn't use any mashed potato, it's a much faster dish than a traditional fish pie and it's been made at Ballymaloe for decades. The fish is baked with golden browned cheese on top. It's lovely and rich so could be served with perhaps boiled potatoes or even some crusty white bread.
 
There are a few vegetables that work especially well in a fish pie. Leek and mushrooms are a classic combination that are divine with any white fish. Peas of course are a simple and sweet addition, though I sometimes keep the filling as only fish.
 
The fish matters a little less than if you were, for example, baking just a piece of fish with a herb butter. That's not to say you shouldn't use good-quality fish, as you'll really notice the difference, just that the subtle differences between Pollack, cod or hake may be a little lost in a pie full of potatoes and cream. I often like to add some smoked fish to my pie, such as smoked haddock or salmon. The smoky flavour is such a lovely addition and just a small amount of smoked fish will flavour the whole dish.
 

Fish Pie Recipes: 

 
Rachel recommends
 
Michael Kelly is the founder of the Grow It Yourself (GIY) movement, an inspiring not-for-profit organisation that brings together communities of people across Ireland who are growing their own food.
 
Michael himself has already published two great books about his move from IT consultancy to farming. His latest book is called Grow Cook Eat. It is a wonderful blend of easy-to-understand month-by-month gardening advice and tips, interspersed with recipes from many of Ireland's cooks and chefs. My already well-thumbed copy of this book is my kitchen-garden go-to.
 
Grow Cook Eat by Michael Kelly is published by GIY Ireland. See giyireland.com

 

Rachel Allen Nov 17, 2014 News