Taken from Towpath: Recipes and Stories Reviewed here

“Another of Lori’s favourites and a perfect dish for a cold day. This pie is inspired from the days when I worked at Melrose and Morgan, which was my first cooking job. Along with serving lots of fresh food, we had several fridges full of prepared food. Every week I would make endless fish pies and cottage/shepherds pies. I’m still surprised that I love making this, but I think it’s the memory of it being one of the first things I learnt to cook that puts a smile on my face. I like to serve my fish pie with greens or a watercress salad.”

Serves 6

1kg/2 lb smoked haddock fillets

1 litre/1 pints full-fat milk, plus 100ml/3 oz for the potatoes

4 bay leaves

handful of peppercorns

1.2kg/2 lb Desiree or Maris Piper potatoes, peeled
150g/5oz unsalted butter, plus 100g/3 oz for potatoes
1 large or 2 medium leeks, washed,halved and sliced

4 eggs

100g/3 oz plain our
bunch dill, finely chopped

juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.

Put the smoked haddock, 1 litre/1 pints of the milk, bay leaves and peppercorns in an ovenproof dish. Cover tightly with foil and place in oven for 20–35 minutes, but check if the haddock is ready after 20 minutes. The fish should be slightly undercooked as you will be cooking it again. It should come away easily from the skin but still be a bit translucent.

Take out of the oven and remove the foil. Once you are able to touch, but while still warm, remove the skin and bones, keeping the pieces as large as possible. Strain the milk and keep in a saucepan to use later.

While the fish is cooking, cut the potatoes into similar-sized pieces and run under cold water to remove all the starch. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and season. Bring to boil and cook until soft. Drain in a colander and mash using a mouli.

Warm the 100ml/5 oz milk and the 100g/3 oz butter for the potatoes in a small saucepan and stir into the potatoes for a creamy mash. Season.

At the same time, melt 50g/2oz butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the leeks, turn up the heat and sweat until soft and sweet. You don’t want any colour, so once the liquid has evaporated from the leeks, turn down the heat and stir from time to time – this should take about 20 minutes. Season.

Soft boil the eggs (for 6 minutes – you want them runny) and rinse under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Peel and cut into quarters lengthways.

Now make the béchamel. If the sh poaching milk is not warm, warm gently over a low heat. In another saucepan melt the remaining 100g/3 oz butter on a low heat. Add the our and with a wooden spoon stir continuously. Cook for about 5 minutes until the our has cooked out.

Add a couple of ladlefuls of the warm milk. Whisk vigorously as the sauce will thicken straightaway. Leave a couple of minutes between each ladleful to allow the sauce to thicken and the flour to cook – there is nothing worse than a floury béchamel.

Repeat until all the milk is all incorporated. Stir the whole time as the our can burn on the base of the pan. Bring slowly to the boil and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring. Season and add the dill.

Preheat the oven to 205°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7.

To assemble the fish pie, take a 20 x 28 x 6cm/8 x 11 x 2 in rectangular pie dish. Layer the leeks on the bottom, place the haddock on top. Scatter the eggs over and season.

Drizzle the lemon juice and ladle in the béchamel to cover the entire pie. You might have a small amount of bechamel left over. Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes.

Finish with the mash and use a palette knife to smooth down the mash. With the round end of the palate knife, make indentations in the pie so it looks like the scales of a sh.

Bake for 20–30 minutes so it browns on top, then turn the heat down to 150°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3 and cook for another 10–15 minutes.

Serve with steamed cavolo nero or a watercress salad.

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