[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Pretty Simple Fish Pie
21 February 2014
[Fish Pie]

I recently made a shameful confession to some friends - here I was in England, in York, and I was eating almost no fish! I have excuses, err, reasons. I'd prefer to buy from local fishmongers rather than chain stores, and my farm shops don't have fish, aside from frozen ones or the odd kipper. My schedule is such that I can rarely hit the fishmonger in York on my way home, and I don't want fish to be sitting in a lecture hall or locker for a few hours while I take care of other chores. So it's not that I was avoiding fish, it's just that circumstances conspired to make it less convenient than simply having some more goat.

Well, my schedule has shifted a bit this term, and I also decided to make a bit more of an effort, with the result that fish has started to poke its head above water, so to speak. (And none too soon, with Lent on the horizon.)

I left class on a Tuesday, and rather than running straight home, I popped by the market and found a nice bit of whiting. A pie, of sorts, sounded low stress, and fit with the other ingredients I had around the house, and thus it was decided.

It might look like a complex, multi-stage process, but it isn't really - cook some vegetables and the fish, make some mashed potatoes, make a béchamel sauce, combine them, and bake for a bit. Easy ...

[Lots of pictures]

Pretty Simple Fish Pie

Get the mashed potatoes going first, since they take the longest. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain. Add some liquid - stock, milk, or water - and a little butter, if you like. Mash. Go easy on the liquid at first, and add more in little dribs and drabs if they are too thick. When they are of a spreadable texture, they're ready.

The potatoes should take half an hour to forty-five minutes, if the chunks are medium large. You can speed the process by cutting them into smaller bits. In any case, while they are boiling, dice an onion and a carrot. Put a little oil in a pan and add the onions and carrots. Sweat them just a bit, then add a good quantity of rosemary and thyme, a pinch of salt, and a bit of stock or water. Set them to simmer.

Cut the fish into chunks. Grate the cheese. Now, if the timing is working, the potatoes should be getting tender, and the onions and carrots are starting to soften a bit - not too much on the carrots, you'd like some crunch at the end of the process. As I say, if the timing is working, then add the fish to the vegetables, cover and simmer as gently as possible. Drain and mash the potatoes.

Melt the butter in a pot or pan with the flour, stirring more or less all the while. When the butter is melted and combined with the flour, let it just start to bubble, and then add the milk. Stir vigorously and raise the heat. Depending on how much salt you've already added at the various stages, you might want to add more, or you might not. When the sauce comes to a simmer, it should thicken nicely, so remove it from the heat. That's the béchamel sorted.

If the timing is right, the fish is almost but not quite done at this point, which is great, since we're going to finish it in the oven. Get the fish into your baking dish - if you were cleverer than I was, the dish you did the stovetop work in is oven safe - and add the béchamel and mix well. Get the fish and vegetables arranged in an even layer and put the mashed potatoes on top. Spread them carefully into a layer on top of the fish. Sprinkle your cheese on top. Stick the whole mess into a 185C/375F oven for about fifteen minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Serve with something green.

© 2014 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite