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Luxe Fish Pie

Decadent in its list of ingredients, delicious on the plate, this recipe makes a large fish pie to serve 8. You might choose, as we did, to make 2 smaller pies, one to eat now, one for the freezer: assemble both pies then wrap one tightly with a double thickness of foil before freezing for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight then cook as per the recipe, adding an extra 15-20 minutes until piping hot throughout.

Luxe Fish Pie

1 lb.  2 oz. cod fillets
1 lb. 2 oz. salmon fillets
8 oz. smoked trout fillets
3 cups milk
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
2 bay leaves
5 tbs. butter
2½ oz. all-purpose flour (½ cup plus 1tbs.)
5 oz. baby spinach leaves
3 tbs. white wine or vermouth
2-3 tbs. roughly chopped fresh dill

For the cheesy mash topping:

3 lb. 5 oz. Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
2 oz. butter (4 tbs.)
4 oz. English cheddar, coarsely grated
8 oz. crème fraîche (7 fl. oz.)

Place the fish fillets in a large, wide saucepan and pour over the milk. Add the onion wedges and bay leaves, tucking them around the fish. Bring to a very gentle simmer, then cover with a lid and remove from the heat immediately. Leave to stand and infuse for 10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Drain the fish in a colander over a large jug or bowl to reserve the infused milk, and set both aside.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan of lightly salted cold water, bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Drain well, return to the pan and mash with the butter, half the cheese, and the crème fraîche until smooth. Season to taste and set aside.

To finish the filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, then gradually add the infused milk, stirring over a medium heat for 3 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in the spinach and wine or vermouth, and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the dill. Season to taste.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Spoon a third of the sauce in to the base of a 3-quart shallow ovenproof dish. Scatter half the fish fillets over the sauce, breaking them into chunky pieces and discarding the skin, any stray bones, onion, and bay leaves as you go. Pour over another third of the sauce, then top with the rest of the fish. Finish with a final layer of the sauce. Spoon the potato over the fish mixture, starting at the edges. Swirl the potato with the back of a spoon and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until the potato is golden and the filling is bubbling.

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