The April Charcutepalooza challenge is hot smoking, and April 1st is the date that my building officially became non-smoking. I’ve smoked cigarettes on and off for years, and for the last ten years or so I’ve derived less pleasure and more distaste for this particular vice. It’s expensive, stinky, and makes it difficult to solicit French kissing, even from really good friends. Hmph. I’m choosing to view this brutish and totalitarian breach of my civil rights as an opportunity, so wish me luck. Also: I’m in the market for a few new vices; suggestions & samples welcome. On to the good smoke ..
The recipe for this fish pie is from Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, and I was reminded of it when Ryan cooked it for his excellent Parkinson’s Appeal cooking marathon. I tweaked the recipe a bit: instead of buying smoked haddock, I smoked my own. I would have liked to use alder wood chips, but I was fresh out, so instead I used a bit of hickory. I worried that the hickory might overwhelm the haddock, but I used a very small amount, and I only smoked the fish for 20 minutes, and in fact the smoked haddock tasted fantastic.
I tweaked the béchamel a bit by gently infusing some shrimp shells in warm milk, which added a lovely sweet shell-fishy note. I then heated the milk up to a bare simmer and poured it over the warm smoked fish and let it cool to room temperature while I went about the rest of the recipe preparation. Hard-boiled eggs chopped, potatoes cooked and mashed with lots of good butter, and finally a béchamel made with the smoky, shrimpy fish-milk infusion. Here’s the pie before I slathered it with the béchamel and topped it with the warm potato mash:
After the above-mentioned slathering & topping, I simply dragged the tines of a fork artfully across the mash (which creates a surface ideal for becoming crunchy and yummy) and carefully boxed up the whole thing to be carted up to dinner with mom & her sweetie.
The pie baked up beautifully in mom’s oven, and we enjoyed it very much with boiled little peas and a crunchy salad courtesy of mom. Yum!
The next night I served leftover fish pie for my friend at our soon-to-be regular girls Friday night geek & eat fest, and I made this little salad, inspired by Raymond Blanc, as our starter:
A perfect celebration of spring, friendship, food, and letting go of the stinky bad smoke!
Coming soon: Yet another reason to love Canadians.