I’ve been reading quite a few cookbooks recently that have a seasonal theme to get some new ideas for different winter dishes.
I’ve been particularly enjoying Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s (HFW) ‘The River Cottage Year‘ (this link is to Amazon.co.uk). I’d already tried a couple of the soup recipes and then I spotted the recipe for ‘Smoky cheaty brandade’ (page 49) and I just happened to have some smoked haddock that I’d been planning to use for kedgeree but thought I’d try the brandade instead.
It was fairly simple to make (about 1 hour total from start to sitting down to eat – and of that time about 20 mins was prep the rest was the dish cooking). I made half the quantity in Hugh’s recipe and 2 of us ate half of it so I now have plenty left which I’m planning to fry up as fish cakes later the week. I guess if you had a really big appetite it wouldn’t go this far but with some braised courgette and greens it made a good size main course which we followed with some cheese.
The recipe goes like this – adapted from Hugh (with my comments in brackets):
(per HFW this serves 4 as a main, 8 as a starter or 12 as a canape – but see my comment above):
500g smoked haddock or cod fillet
whole milk (actually I used semi skimmed and it was fine) – about 400ml
500g mashing potatoes – peeled (floury ones that mash well are king edwards and maris piper)
4 tbsp good olive oil, plus extra
2-3 large garlic cloves
optional – 1-2 tbsp double cream (I didn’t use this)
- Poach the fish in the milk for about 5 minutes (the milk should just cover the fish and if the fillet is particularly thick it may take a few minutes extra – its ready when the flakes will separate easily – use a sharp knife to test it). Leave the fish in the milk to cool.
- Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender, drain then mash with a generous knob of butter and some of the poaching milk to get a soft but not sloppy mash.
- Remove the fish from the milk and flake it off the skin and make sure you pick out any stray bones, discard the skin and bones.
- Pour the olive oil into a small pan and add the finely chopped garlic, sweat on a very low heat for 2-3 minutes and don’t let the garlic colour. (I used the full 4 tbsps of olive oil even though I used only half the quantity of fish and potato).
- Put the fish into a food processor and pulse to a paste whist adding the olive oil/garlic until the fish is the consistency of mash potato – add more oil or the cream or some of the poaching milk to achieve this.
- Mix the fish and mashed potato together – BUT NOT in the food processor or it will go all gluey – and season with black pepper.
- Spread in an oven proof dish and bake at gas 5 (190C) for 15-20 mins. (It didn’t go very brown on the top so you might want to crank the oven up for the last few mins or pop it under the grill if this is the effect you are looking for. I imagine it would be pretty tasty with some grated cheese on top).
- Serve with toast and/or greens, leek, chicory or other green veg. (We had greens and courgette – tho I admit the latter is not very seasonal).