With a chill in the air and the nights drawing in, it is time to start thinking about heartier meals. The onset of fall gives us permission to ask questions like “what are your favorite comfort foods?”
Without question, mine is fish pie and this this rich and creamy example is a winner with both grown-ups and little ones alike. Serve with some green beans or corn on the cob and you have a hearty meal that both satisfies and delivers a good serving of brain food.
The ingredients I listed below aren’t to be taken as rote: feel free to substitute different kinds of fish. The dish works best with a substantial, meaty fish such as salmon or tilapia and it is worth noting that delicate fish such as sole, can disintegrate a bit and get lost in the sauce. Also, I have to declare that I love the flexibility of this recipe: you can keep it basic or make it more fancy by adding shellfish – scallops, mussels would be good additions.
Alternatively, you can give it a bit more heft by adding capers or if you are short of fish, you can add a few chopped hard boiled eggs.
In terms of meal planning, this is a good dish to make in advance and freeze — just remember to take out of the freezer and put in the fridge the morning that you intend to eat it!
Ingredients – serves 4:
For the mash:
- 4-5 medium to big potatoes peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- ½ cup milk (low fat or whole milk 0r heavy cream if you are feeling very decadent)
- 1 tbs butter
- ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese (to be sprinkled on top of the mash)
For the fish sauce:
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 ½ tbs butter
- 2 tbs plain flour
- 2 cups milk (either low fat or whole)
- 1 tbs chopped parsley (fresh if possible)
- 1 tbs chopped chives
- 2-3 fillets of white fish – tilapia, cod or salmon
- 1 cup of shrimp (tails and shells removed)
- 2 slices of smoked salmon
- Salt and pepper
First of all make the mash. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. This should take about 10 minutes. Test their softness with a fork and then drain them. Let the mashed potatoes air dry for a few minutes in the sieve then put the potatoes back into the pan on a very low heat. Then add the butter and milk and mash everything together. Hence the name. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Take 2 tablespoons of butter and fry the mushrooms. When the mushrooms are soft, sprinkle the flour over them, and stir until the flour is absorbed for a few minutes. Gradually add the milk and keep stirring! Slowly bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for about 5 minutes. Season and add the herbs.
Cut the fish up into bite sized pieces, double check to make sure there are no fish bones. Place the fish and shrimp in the bottom of an ovenproof dish and then pour the mushroom sauce over the fish.
Spread and smooth the mashed potato with a fork, then sprinkle on the grated cheese. (By the way, at this point you can freeze the dish and cook later.) Place in a preheated oven at 375° for about 20 minutes by which stage it should be bubbling nicely. Finish by putting under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
Now, sit back and watch your children argue over who is getting the crispy bits!
So tell me what comfort food do you love? Was it something you had as a kid?