John Whaite does not appreciate waste. He says that when it comes to making a traditional fish pie, “it seems a shame that most recipes discard the potato skins, which are not only packed with so many nutrients but also delicious. That really is the provenance of this recipe.”
Indeed – these chunky pies, which feature in John’s new cookbook, Comfort, have all the characteristics of your classic fish pie, but come encased in crisp potato skins and bubbling with cheese.
Here’s how to make them…
6 medium baking potatoes
For the filling:
40g unsalted butter
1 leek, very finely sliced
2 anchovies, finely chopped
100g skinless salmon, cut into 1cm cubes
100g skinless pollack, cut into 1cm cubes
100g skinless smoked haddock, cut into 1cm cubes
200g creme fraiche
1tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
1tsp fine sea salt
1tsp black pepper
For the topping:
1tsp fine sea salt
50g Gruyere, finely grated
1tbsp creme fraiche
1. Preheat the oven to 210°C/190°C fan/gas mark 7. Put the potatoes on a baking tray and bake for one to one-and-a-half hours, until the skins are crispy and the insides soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. Reduce the temperature to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.
2. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the leek and fry until very soft – about 20 minutes – stirring occasionally. Put the leek into a bowl with the remaining filling ingredients and stir to mix well.
3. Halve the potatoes and scoop most of the flesh into a bowl – leave about 5mm of flesh against the skin. Fill each potato skin with the fish filling and place on a baking tray – or use a 12-hole bun tin so the filled potato halves don’t fall over.
4. Add the topping ingredients to the bowl of potato and mix until fairly smooth, then blob it on top of the fish filling in each potato skin. Bake for 20–30 minutes, until the potato is slightly coloured.
Comfort by John Whaite, photography by Nassima Rothacker, is published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. Available now