And you should absolutely take that warning seriously because the biggest mistake I made with this pie was to make it on a Wednesday morning just in time for lunch. After our first wet dog walk of Autumn, followed by a very gloomy morning catching up with chores and work, it seemed a pretty good idea to polish that all off with a piping hot fish pie. Oh and it was. It was warm, it was creamy, it was buttery… but it was so comforting that I could have very happily curled up on the sofa under a blanket and slept for the rest of the day after shoving in that final mouthful. It’s not that it was really that filling, it was just an incredibly cosy pie – something that would be absolutely perfect on a gloomy, snoozy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, not on a Wednesday afternoon when you’ve got back to back Zoom calls for the rest of the day.
Packed with everything you’d expect in a traditional fish pie (except the mash topping), this one gets a subtle glow up with the addition of a little fish sauce and lager, giving it a richer and slightly saltier flavour (but strangely, without making it taste too fishy). The sliced leeks and shallots balance by bringing a little sweetness to the creamy sauce, while the golden puff pastry lid adds the flaky, crunchy texture you’ll miss with the traditional mash topping. Do yourself a favour and serve it up with some tender stem broccoli – you’re not going to want to miss out on dunking them into the sauce!
Cosy Fish and Lager Pie
1 tbsp olive oil
1 banana shallot, sliced
handful of spinach leaves, sliced and stalked
half a leek, sliced
handful of parsley, sliced and stalked
1 tbsp fish sauce
100ml cold water
150ml pale lager
25g plain flour
150ml double cream
250gfish pie mix (pick one with plenty of smoked haddock)
enough puff pastry to cover your chosen pie dish(es)
splash of milk
Set your oven to 180°C (fan)
Add your oil and chopped shallot to a deep frying pan and fry on a medium heat until translucent. Add the chopped leek and spinach and fry together for about 5 minutes.
Next, pour in a tablespoon of good quality fish sauce, 100ml of cold water and 150ml of pale lager. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and pop on the lid– leaving it to simmer while you make the roux.
To make the roux, melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat then whisk in the flour until combined. Add the cream, stirring until any lumps are gone. Pour the sauce base into the frying pan and then stir to combine with the other ingredients. Pour in the parsley and fish, then leave to bubble without the lid for about seven minuteswhile you get on with preparing the puff pastry lid.
Pour the fish pie mix into your chosen pie dish (I used two large ramekins), then seal with your puff pastry lid. Brush with a little milk, then cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
Serve hot with with tender stem broccoli (great for dunking!) or peas. (…Then prepare to fall asleep on the sofa for the rest of the day because – fair warning – this is the cosiest of all the cosy pies!)
I cannot tell you how much I’ve been missing my local pub these past few months. It’s a tiny local boozer, but honestly, great things come in small packages; it’s blessed with a brilliant chef – and best of all? It’s pretty much right on my doorstep. Under normal circumstances (remember normal?) when I take Bungle for his evening walk, the smell of chips and pub curries and steaks (you know, proper pub grub) escaping from its walls and windows is just in-credible… and so it’s been kind of sad walking past these last few months and gazing at its dark windows and closed doors with the air completely unscented. I’ve missed it. SO much! And I can’t wait for it open its doors again. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s still going to be a while; although England is set to reopen pubs, cafes and restaurants in early July, Wales is a little but further behind when it comes to loosening lockdown.
So, craving a bit of good old pub grub, I tried to replicate one of my all time favourite bar orders at home. Good old Gammon, Egg and Chips. Instead of using Gammon Steaks, however, I picked up a Gammon Joint and slowly cooked it for an hour in cola and various other cupboard ingredients to make sliced gammon that’s both juicy, sweet and smoky (nothing chewy about this hunk of meat). The dregs make for a fabulous cola ketchup, and this pub plate wouldn’t be complete without a side of chunky homemade steak chips. Any leftover gammon and ketchup keeps well in the fridge for 5 days and makes for some tasty sandwiches. 😉
Pub Style Gammon and Chips with Cola Ketchup
For the Gammon and Cola Ketchup:
750g gammon joint
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 clove of smoked garlic, mashed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes
1 litre of cola (non diet)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp worcester sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cornflower
For the Chips:
4 large maris piper potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Fried Tomato halves
Add the olive oil and garlic to a large, deep pot and lightly fry on a medium heat until golden. Add the chopped shallots and fry them until they soften and start to brown. Add the tomatoes, frying lightly until they soften and start to burst.
Remove any wrappings and trimmings from the gammon and then add it to the pot. Brown the gammon – turning it regularly to colour and seal every surface.
Next, add the Cola, tomato paste, soy sauce, worcester sauce and maple syrup. Bring to the boil – stirring around the gammon (lightly puncture and press the tomatoes to release their juice) – then turn down the heat and reduce to a simmer. Pop on the lid and leave everything to cook for one hour.
While the gammon’s cooking, prepare your pub style chips. Slice the peeled potatoes into chunky chip shapes, then chuck them in a saucepan with plenty of cold water and salt. Turn the heat up and bring the pot to the boil – allowing it bubble for 5 minutes. By that time the chips should be soft but still hold shape.
Transfer the chips to a foil lined baking tray with the sunflower oil and sea salt.Toss them, coating them in the oil and salt and then spread them out evenly and leave to cool.
Once the gammon’s got 15 minutes left on the clock, pop the chips in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C.
Once the gammon times out, remove it from the pot and leave it to rest under some foil for 15 minutes before carvingand serving.
To make the cola ketchup, blitz the remaining ingredients in the pot until smooth. Whisk in a tablespoon of cornflower to thicken it up over a low heat, then leave to cool.
Serve the gammon and chips with fresh peas, pineapple, fried tomatoes and a fried egg. 🙂