Smoked Cod's Roe, Egg and Potato Cake

Enjoy this sophisticated combination of smoked cod's roe, fried potato cake and oozy eggs as an accomplished breakfast, brunch or lunch.

The Book of St John: Still a Kind of British Cooking
By &
To serve 6

Ingredients

For the potato cake (makes 6):
6 large Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and sliced wafer thin
sea salt
200g duck fat
vegetable oil or more duck fat for deep frying
For the roe:
600ml whole milk
the juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
200g white bread, without crusts, cut into cubes
700g smoked cod’s roe
600ml extra virgin olive oil
500ml vegetable oil
6 large free-range eggs
To serve:
6 large free-range eggs
a good handful of mustard cress

Instructions

The day before you want to enjoy the dish, rinse the sliced potatoes in a colander to wash off any excess starch, allow them to drip dry for 30 minutes, shaking every so often to help them along.

Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and season with salt. Melt the duck fat until warm and liquid and pour over the potatoes, gently mixing with your hands to ensure that they are coated evenly but being careful not to damage the slices.

In a roasting tray at least 2.5cm deep and lined with greaseproof paper, start layering the potatoes evenly and methodically, building up layer by layer. Depth is important in this step. Cover your finished strata with tin foil and bake in a medium oven for 2 hours, or until a knife easily goes through the cooked potato. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes, then take out of the oven and allow to cool. Find a tray of a similar surface area which will fit on top of the potato dish. Add some weight from tins or bottles and allow to press in the fridge overnight.

The next day, turn it out and cut into 18 fingers roughly 2.5cm high, 6.5cm wide and 5mm deep. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain thoroughly and season and ensure it is still warm when serving.

When you are ready to prepare the other elements of the dish, begin by making the roe. Combine the milk, lemon juice and garlic in a large bowl, then add the bread and leave to soak until it has taken up all the liquid. When ready, pour the mixture into the bowl of a blender along with the smoked cod’s roe and blend until smooth. Combine the oils and pour them little by little into the roe, taking your time while you blend to emulsify.

Boil the eggs according to your preferred soft-boiling method: we favour plunging them into boiling water and cooking for 6 minutes, then removing from the heat and plunging immediately into iced water. Peel the eggs when they are cool, treating them tenderly so as not to break through to the soft yolks.

Dollop the cod’s roe on to the platter, scatter the potato cake around the dish and place the boiled eggs carefully among them, cutting them in half to allow the yolk to run. Nustle clusters of mustard cress between the eggs.

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