Rock Bottom Recipe: Winter Fish Pie

The cold crisp days desire a lot of one-pot hearty meals. And we supply. To be honest, I was hoping to be a little snowed-in this season because I have a lot of reading and writing to do (between my own PhD dissertation, tutoring, teaching assistance, and as a recent art agent, I somehow have inherited a lot of sitting/writing work) so preparing a complex meal just isn’t in my schedule.

Nor Josh’s – for someone who has recently made the transition from office job to homesteading, he’s not considered downtime. He’s been renovating the house as he can (first the ‘dining’ room, now he’s dismantling our sad little ‘laundry room’ which is also a second bathroom, yes – right next door to the first, and desires to be a storage space for fermenting supplies/equipment and possibly a darkroom), I think the 2 season front porch is next – which desires to be 4 season as a mudroom and grow room for the seedlings (at least until I get a greenhouse). As you might have seen, he’s also been baking a lot – A LOT! Beautiful sourdough boule’s everywhere! We had to upgrade his supplies this week – rattan bread proofing baskets with liners, bulk flour, and various bread-nerdy tools (lame, scrapers, couche, beeswax covers, linen towels – he needs an apron next). Please feel free to volunteer yourself as an official taste-tester, I could use some help!

So, this week we found ourselves hungering for something simple but rich and hearty: Fish Pie it is. As with all our recipes, this is easily adaptable to tastes and sizes. Enjoy!

Colcannon Fish Pie

1 lb. firm white fish (we used haddock, but cod, pollock, halibut, etc would work), cut into 4-5″ pieces
1 6oz tin of Bar Harbor Wild Herring Fillets (w/ cracked pepper, or any smoked fish), drained
1 Md onion, diced (I was out so did without, but it’s a nice addition in general)
1 Tbsp diced garlic
2 Lg carrots, split into long quarters and chopped (I could see 1.5 cup frozen peas being an option, too, or a good handful of chopped parsley added with the bechamel sauce)
1 Lg celery stalk, split in long half and chopped (to be honest, I didn’t have any so I added a tsp and a half of celery seed to carrots and garlic while cooking)
2 lbs. baking potatoes, chopped in 2″ cubes
1/2 head green cabbage (about 1 lb), chopped
2 bay leaves
glug of olive oil
approx 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, maybe a little more for bechamel or topping the pie
3 cups Milk
salt & pepper
1/2 cup flour (or chickpea flour for GF option)
SERVES 6-8

Short version: This is pretty much a 3 step process before baking but not as crazy as it sounds. Essentially you will take your potatoes and make mashed potatoes out of them (adding in the cabbage when you boil the potatoes, mashing them all together with butter and milk, s&p) – this makes a great meal if you have leftover mashed potatoes or colcannon (if the former, just blanch or steam the cabbage and add to mashed potatoes, if your leftover colcannon has cheese in it, which ours sometimes does, all the better). Then you cook the veggies/ add the milk and bay, then the fish cook til firm – set aside – adding a bit of fish milk to the mashed tatas, make the bechamel with the rest of the fish milk, 1/4 c butter and flour, add the veggies/fish into the sauce, top with the potatoes in a greased baking dish, add pats of butter, s&p, and bake for 25 min. at 400 degrees.

Long version:
* Boil potatoes and cabbage until tender. Drain, reserving a little liquid just in case/for later and mash with 3 Tbsp butter, s & p. Set aside. (This is your colcannon)
*In a deep pan, add a glug of olive oil, mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery), garlic – saute until fragrant. Add white fish but move veggies around to be on top of fish as much as possible, can layer thinner pieces of fish on top if necessary. Add milk, bay leaves, s&p. Bring to simmer, let simmer 2 min. then cover and remove from heat (fish will continue to cook in the hot milk for a few minutes).
* Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and using a slotted spoon or draining utensil, move the veggies and fish to the baking dish, adding the smoked fish – mix gently to even out across the bottom of the dish. Add a little fish milk to colcannon and set the rest aside in a large measuring cup or bowl.
* Heat 1/4 cup butter on Med-High, melt and add flour, whisking vigorously. Cook for 2 min then add fish milk 1/2 cup at a time, continuing to whisk and adding milk 1/2 cup at a time until you end up with a creamy sauce that will pour nicely but isn’t too thin. If too thick add a little potato water or more milk if needed. Add on top of veggies/fish in dish, mix in gently.
* Dollop colcannon on top of bechamel mix, spreading carefully to cover. Add a few pats of butter to the top. Bake 25 min or until the top is starting to golden and the sauce is bubbling up a bit. Serve with buttered bread if you like (very gratuitous but delicious).
* Makes great leftovers – reheat in oven with foil. If refrigerating ceramic or glass baking dish, let come to room temperature before baking. Stay Cozy!

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Published by Rachael M Rollson

creative life-learner

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