Classic Fish Pie

Comfort food comes in so many variations but for me when those cold, dark nights are lingering for longer than they’re welcome there’s nothing quite as warming for the heart as a Fish Pie. The combination of deep savoury and smoky flavours draped in an unctuous cheesy sauce, hidden under crisp mashed potato is hard to beat.

Everyone has their own recipe for Fish Pie and whilst this may not be the lowest in calories I’m yet to find a good recipe without a creamy white sauce that doesn’t feel lacking…

 


Classic Fish Pie
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 
There are few meals as comforting as Fish Pie - the subtle smokiness, the smooth creaminess and the crisp potato topping come together like a big hug to make you feel better about the world. Don't believe me? Just try it…
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Fish
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 400 g Mixed Fish of your choice - see note below
  • 50 g Butter
  • 50 g Plain Flour
  • 1 pinch Mustard Powder
  • 400 ml Semi-skimmed Milk
  • 40 g Cheddar Cheese
  • 100 g Raw Spinach washed and shredded
  • 500 g Potatoes
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180c (fan) or equivalent if you're planning on serving the pies straight away. Otherwise you can assemble them earlier in the day and keep them in the fridge until needed.
  2. Start by peeling the potatoes and cutting them into medium sized chunks. Put them into a pan, cover with cold water then bring to the boil. Simmer until they're tender all the way through.
  3. When they are cooked through drain off the water and mash the potatoes in the pan, adding a splash of milk and a knob of butter for a bit of extra oomph. You can also sneak in a bit of seasoning at this stage and, if you don't want such a rich sauce in the pie, sneak in some of the cheddar cheese
  4. Meanwhile make a cheese sauce - this comes naturally to many but if you're not confident then believe me when I say it's not as scary as it might seem. All you need to do is be patient and if you manage that you shouldn't get any lumps . In case you need a reminder...
  5. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Mix the flour and mustard powder together then add to the melted butter. Stir until the mixture comes together and 'cook out' the flour for a minute or so.
  6. From here you start to slowly add the milk in stages and stir the mixture until it's all incorporated into the mix. I reckon 50-100ml a time should be plenty for each stage - it won't look pretty at first but it will quickly come together. A lot of people like to have the milk warmed before doing this but I just make sure it's at room temperature as it saves on washing up.
  7. Continue stirring over the medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken - don't take your eye off the ball at this stage or it may start to stick to the pan. This stage should leave you with a lovely thick, smooth sauce just before the sauce reaches boiling.
  8. Grate the cheese into the sauce once you're happy with the consistency and take the pan off of the heat. If you're adding spinach now is the time to mix it into the sauce too. Allow the sauce to cool down before using it
  9. From here it's just a case of assembling the ingredients into a delicious pie! If your fish isn't already in chunks then cut it into bite sized pieces and mix them into an oven-proof dish. I like to make individual pies so split the fish between two little pie dishes.
  10. Smother with the sauce and then stir gently to mix the sauce through the fish.
  11. Cover with the mashed potatoes and fork the topping to make sure that you get some nice crispy, brown bits.
  12. At this point you can pop the pie(s) into the fridge until you're ready to cook them or take them straight to the over. Either way when you get to that hungry stage just pop your creations into your preheated oven (180 C fan, remember?) and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling up around the edge. You might need an extra couple of minutes if your pies come out of the fridge first.
  13. Serve with whatever sides you like - I think nice green vegetables like broccoli or french beans sit perfectly alongside these pies, as their fresh crispness offset the fluffy creaminess of the pie, but this bit is up to you.
Recipe Notes

When it comes to the choice of fish in this sort of pie it really is up to you. The only thing I would say is to include a bit of something smoked as that certainly helps the overall flavour. As I often only cook for 2 people it's not always the sensible option to buy various fillets of fish separately, so I tend to pick up a "Fish Pie Mix" pack from the supermarket. This is generally a combination of White Fish (Cod, Haddock, etc), Salmon and Smoked Haddock, which does provide a great combination of flavours. If I have them to hand I'll also sneak in some prawns for a bit more texture and flavour, but like all of the fish in the pie they're entirely optional and you're in control.

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