Recipe: MasterChef Style Smoked Haddock

I’m a little bit obsessed with Celebrity MasterChef at the moment. Seeing Sinitta nearly poison John and Gregg with raw mince in a raw aubergine was a particular highlight. Sinitta will do anything for a few quid it would seem but sadly she was booted off before she could find a new cooking career and, more importantly, before she actually killed someone. One of my favourite Essex exports, Amy Childs, also left the competition early. Despite continuously pouting her way through the first round, it wasn’t enough to make up for her raw steak and she too was asked to leave.

On a much more positive note, I loved watching Mo from Eastenders try to make her liver and bacon dish look more Masterchef friendly by piping her mashed potato in three tiny pea-like dots around the plate, which didn’t go down too well with the celebrity judges. Sid Owen (Rickaaaaayyyyyy) and Alexis Conran (I know right – who?) have both got off to a good start and have delivered some tasty meals to John and Gregg. I’ve been thinking about Sid’s bread and butter pudding since watching the episode.

Taking inspiration from some of the dishes the celebs have made, I decided to up my game and take myself out of my comfort zone and create a dish that I think John would describe as a ‘tasty, tasty thing’ and Gregg would be like ‘GET IN MY FACE’. Not blowing my own trumpet (I am) but I think I achieved it. If only I had India Fisher to soothingly describe my dish to you. I will just have to do it myself.

Tania has made poached smoked haddock on a bed of mustard mash with a cheddar cheese sauce and spinach cooked with lemon juice and crispy bacon.

Serves 2

What you need:

For the mash –

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • a splash of milk
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp soft butter
  • a good pinch of salt

For the fish –

  • 2 fillets of smoked haddock
  • enough milk to almost cover the fish in a shallow dish
  • 1 spring onion, halved
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp soft butter

For the cheese sauce –

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese

For the spinach –

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach leaves
  • squeeze of lemon juice

What you do:

  1. To make the mash, boil the potatoes in salted water until they are tender then drain well and mash thoroughly with the butter, milk, salt and mustard. Beat with a wooden spoon for fluffy, creamy mash. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. Grease a shallow dish that is the right size to allow the fish to sit in without overlapping. Lay the haddock fillets in skin side down and cover almost all the way with the milk. Add in the halved spring onion and black peppercorns then spread the soft butter on top of the fish before covering the whole dish tightly with foil and placing this in the oven at 180°c for 15 minutes.
  3. When the fish is cooked, remove it from the milky liquid and keep it warm. Strain the milk into a jug as you will need this for the cheese sauce.
  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan then add in the flour and stir to create a roux. Gradually whisk in the strained milk until you have a smooth, voluptuous sauce. Add a little extra milk if it’s too thick. Cook out for a few minutes before beating in the grated cheese off the heat and adding salt and pepper if needed.
  5. To make the spinach topping, heat the olive oil in a pan on a high heat and cook off the bacon until it’s golden and crispy. Add in the spinach and keep tossing in the heat until it’s wilted then squeeze in a little lemon juice to taste.
  6. To plate up, create a ring of mashed potato in the middle of your plate. Remove the skin from the haddock then lay the fish fillet on top of the mash. Spoon over some of your lovely cheese sauce then top with the spinach and bacon mixture.

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The soft, creamy mash spiked with sharp mustard makes a delicious base for the flaky smoked fish and the rich, indulgent sauce. The spinach with its tang of lemon cuts through the richness and the crispy little shards of bacon add a welcome crunch. I’m putting myself out there here but I’m certain that this is one of the best dishes I have ever made.

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You should have seen the state of my kitchen though. MESS EVERYWHERE.

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