A fantastic Fish Pie

I hope you enjoy this lovely Fish Pie from my latest series – ‘Neven’s Irish Food Trails’. You can catch it on RTE One at 7:30 on Wednesday evening or on the RTE Player.

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For best results choose fish fillets from the centre cut, as they will cook more evenly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the combination of fish, but don’t be tempted to use more than half the quantity of smoked fish or its flavour will overpower the dish.

Serves 6–8

175g (6oz) haddock fillet, skin on and pin bones removed

175g (6oz) natural smoked cod fillet, skin on and pin bones removed

175g (6oz) salmon fillet, skin on and pin bones removed

1 large bay leaf

450ml (¾ pint) milk

750g (1lb 10oz) potatoes

25g (1oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

75g (3oz) mature Cheddar cheese, grated

1 small leek, thinly sliced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

25g (1oz) plain flour

5 tbsp dry white wine

2 tbsp crème fraîche

2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

100g (4oz) baby spinach leaves

100g (4oz) cooked peeled Dublin Bay prawns

100g (4oz) cooked mussel meat

1 heaped tbsp panko (toasted natural breadcrumbs)

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper buttered peas, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Butter a 2 litre (3½ pint) ovenproof dish that’s at least 5cm (2in) deep.

Remove any stray pin bones from the haddock, cod and salmon and season generously, then place in a shallow pan with the bay leaf and milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and poach for 6–8 minutes, until the fish flakes easily when tested with a knife. Remove the fish from the pan and take off any remaining skin, then flake the flesh into large chunks, checking for any bones that might have been overlooked. Strain the leftover milk into a jug until you have 600ml (1 pint) for the sauce. Discard the bay leaf.

Peel the potatoes, then cut into even-sized pieces and place in a large pan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and return to the pan to dry out a little. Mash well and beat in half of the butter and all of the grated Cheddar cheese. Season well.

Melt the remaining butter in a small pan and gently cook the leek and onion for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the white wine and reduce by half. Gradually pour in the reserved 600ml (1 pint) of poaching milk and simmer for 6–8 minutes, until you have a smooth, thick sauce, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche and parsley. Fold the spinach into the hot sauce and allow the residual heat to wilt down the leaves. Once the spinach has wilted, gently fold in the poached fish with the prawns and mussel meat.

Spoon the fish and spinach mixture into the buttered baking dish. Cover with a layer of the cheesy mash, spreading with a palette knife. Rough up the top with a fork, then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 25–30 minutes, until the top is bubbling and golden brown.

To serve, divide the fish pie among warmed plates and add some buttered peas to each one.

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