Cinty's French Fish Pie
Cinty, pronounced Kinty, is the sister of a friend and this is her foolproof recipe. It’s as good for one as it is for a dinner party. It’s easy to scale up or down. You want plenty of leeks – which are stewed in butter with white wine – then a fillet of white fish per person. I prefer haddock loin but cod, carefully boned hake, brill or lemon sole are good alternatives. The fish is laid over the top of a thick layer of leeks, then covered with a generous layer of fullfat crème fraîche. My contribution is a gratin topping of fine fresh breadcrumbs and finely grated Parmesan to give crunch to every mouthful. It could be made with fennel instead of leeks.
Sometimes when I have plenty of time I salt the fish first. This has the advantage of firming it up, seasoning it and drawing out some of the liquid. For 4 fillets you will need about a tablespoon of flaky Maldon sea salt. Leave them for 20 minutes, then rinse and pat them dry before proceeding.
|Salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|150ml||dry white wine|
|4||thick fillets of skinned haddock (approx. 200g each)|
|300ml||full-fat crème fraîche|
|50g||fine white breadcrumbs without crust|
|2-3 tbsp||finely grated Parmesan|
Halve the leeks lengthways, hold the pieces together and finely slice them into half-moons. Soak them in cold water to loosen any grit, then drain. Heat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6. Melt the butter in an ovenproof pan to fit the fish fillets snugly, stir in the leeks, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until they are soft.
Add the wine and simmer briskly until the leeks are juicy but not wet. Pat the fish dry and lay it over the leeks.
Spread the crème fraîche over the top to cover the fish, then dredge with the breadcrumbs mixed with the Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crisp and golden and the fish cooked through.