haddock & bacon pie

Florence Knight

This pie is comforting yet impressive family food that can be prepared in advance. Much of the cooking is done in stages using the same pan, which will save on washing-up as long as you don’t burn anything in between. You should err on the cautious side when poaching the fish as it will be cooked further in the oven.

serves 6 people

130g butter
700g potatoes, such as red-skinned désirée, washed and thinly sliced on a mandolin
3 tbsp olive oil
400g smoked lardons
1 large onion, finely diced
4 sticks of young celery, finely diced
800ml whole milk
2 bay leaves, torn
950g haddock, skinned and boned
70g flour
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Zest of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 180C (200C non-fan). Melt 60g of the butter in a wide-bottomed pan over a low heat and stir through the potato slices for a few minutes to coat, then set aside.

Warm 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium pan over a low heat and add the lardons, cooking them slowly to render the fat, for 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil, the diced onion and celery, and cook slowly with the lid on for about 10 minutes, until soft and tender. Transfer the contents of the pan to a large bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan, pour in the milk, add the bay leaves and lower in the haddock. Keep the heat low and poach the fish for 3-5 minutes, until its flesh is opaque and flakes when you apply pressure.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the fish out whole and place it into the bowl with the lardons and the vegetables. Discard the bay leaves and pour the remaining milk into a jug.

Return the pan to a medium heat and melt the remaining butter. Add the flour and whisk to remove any lumps. Allow to cook through for a minute, then remove from the heat and add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly. You want it to thicken to a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon.

Return the pan to a low heat and stir constantly until the mixture is dense and thick. Add the crème fraîche and lemon zest and stir through. Gently fold through the poached fish, taking care to keep the pieces as large as possible. Pour into an ovenproof dish that measures 28cm x 40cm x 5cm.

Layer over the potato rounds so that they cover the mixture, overlapping slightly. If making in advance, cover the dish and leave in the fridge overnight, then remove from the fridge 15-20 minutes before cooking.

Place in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and cooked through. If the potatoes need a little more colour, place the dish under a hot grill for a few minutes.