Cooks remove racks of herring from a tradition...

Cooks remove racks of herring from a traditional smoke house

The following recipe was adapted from one found in Nigella Christmas.  I love Nigella Lawson’s recipes because they are fun to read.  She takes the complication out of cooking.  When I follow her recipes, I end up making quick and delicious dishes.  It is the opposite of the early Martha Stewart Living recipes that seemed to assume we all have kitchen staff and abundant time to cook elaborate meals.

For the most part, Nigella’s recipes are great, but this one had a gross error in it.   My spidy senses were tingling the first time that I made it.  I already knew that I needed to make some modifications by inverting the recommended amounts of smoked fish and white fish.  The recipe recommended 300g of white fish and 750 g of smoked fish and I used the 800 g white fish and 200 g of smoked fish on the first round.  This was still too salty.  The second time, I decreased the smoked fish even more and increased the other seasonings and finally, it turned out.

Since it took a couple rounds to figure out, I am happy to share the recipe with you!

Ingredients

50 g unsalted butter

50 g flour

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1/4-1/2 tsp ground mace or nutmeg

1 tsp dijon mustard

350 ml whole milk

1 onion

75 g of italian flat leaf parsley (approximately 1 bunch of parsley)

100 g Digby smoked herrings, roughly chopped

800 g haddock or another firm white fish, fresh or frozen, cut into 2 inch pieces

400 g baking potatoes (approximately 2-3 potatoes, I used yukon gold), sliced thinly, perhaps using a food processor.

1-2 tbsp olive oil

white pepper or black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 400’F
  • In a sauce pan, melt the butter and then add the flour.  While stirring, allow this to bubble for a minute.  Take off the heat and stir in the white wine, mace or nutmeg and mustard.  Whisk in the milk and return the pan to the heat and continue to whisk as it thickens.
  • In a food processor, mince the peeled onion and then add the parsley and pulse til minced.  Add the coarsely chopped smoked herrings and pulse once or twice to chop until the fish is in approximately 1 cm pieces.  Pour the onion, parsley and fish mix from the food processor into the sauce in the sauce pan and stir the two together.
  • Pour the combined sauce into a 9.5″x13.5″ casserole pan.  Put the fish pieces on top of this.
  • Arrange the sliced potatoes on top of the fish pieces, covering the entire casserole.
  • Pour the olive oil into your clean hands and quickly apply olive oil to the potatoes.  Grind pepper over the top.
  • Bake for 1 hour at 400’F.  Serve with buttery petits pois.

By Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

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