Cider-Spiked Fish Pie


Typically the crisp fruitiness of cider would be too much alongside white fish, but here – with the calming influence of a creamy sauce and the richness of smoked haddock– it works perfectly to lighten this fish pie and to echo the gentle tang of the Cheddar cheese on top. Poaching the fish before it goes in the oven might seem like overkill, but it makes a huge difference to the final dish when the fish has that chance to infuse the milk with its flavour. As long as you don’t give the pie excessively long in the oven, the fish should remain perfectly tender and moist, despite being twice-cooked.

Serves 4

For the potato topping:
750g floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and cut into large chunks
50g salted butter
50ml milk
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the filling:

350ml full-fat milk
250g cod fillet
250g smoked haddock
30g salted butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
150ml dry cider
125g mild Cheddar, grated
150g frozen peas
1.5–2 litre oven dish

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.

Place the potato chunks in a pan of cold, salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. Once ready, mash with the butter and milk and season generously.

While the potatoes cook, heat the milk for the filling until it’s nearly boiling and cut the fish into chunks. Poach the fish in the hot milk over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes (the fish needn’t be cooked through at this point) then strain the milk into a separate bowl and put the fish aside for a moment.

Melt the butter over a low heat then add the flour. Leave to sizzle for a couple of minutes, stirring all the while, then slowly whisk in the cider until you’re left with a smooth paste. Let it bubble for a minute then gradually add the poaching milk. Stir over the heat until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, then add 75g of the grated Cheddar, the fish chunks and peas.

Pour the filling into the oven dish and top with the mashed potato. Sprinkle over the remaining Cheddar and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the mash is golden and crisp on top.

  ©Charlotte Bland, 2015

©Charlotte Bland, 2015