Hake Gratin Dauphinois

My recipe notebook has a note beside this recipe: ‘indescribably awesome’. It is.

Perhaps the ultimate comfort food, a fish pie is difficult to beat when the weather is autumnal and the central heating is on – and it’s the end of June.

This one is a bit different though, rather than a mash topping it uses Dauphinois potatoes layered over the top of an onion base with a fish and basil cream filling. Simple to make, and just delicious, it is so moreish it is not a dish you can eat if you are on a diet!

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RECIPE – feeds 3 

500g floury potatoes (Roosters, King Edward, Maris Piper etc)

2 large onions, peeled, halved and finely sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

3 hake fillets or loins (or other firm white fish)

300 ml double cream

a bunch of basil, leaves only, shredded


METHOD

Slice the potatoes to the uniform thickness of a pound coin. Use a mandolin if you have one, it makes the job much quicker and accurate, just be sure to use the guard – I managed to slice my thumb while making this.

Put the sliced potatoes into a large pan in just enough slightly salted cold water to cover them, and bring to the boil. As soon as the water is just at the boil, turn the heat right down until bubbles just break the surface and poach the potatoes for five minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside.

Heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ Gas 6.

Finely slice the onions and fry them gently in a large pan, in the olive oil, for around ten minutes until softened but not coloured. I use my risotto pan for this, I can then leave the onions in it and layer everything on top before I put it into the oven. Use whatever you have though, a large ovenproof dish is perfect.

Spread the onions out in an even layer in the bottom of your pan or dish. Cut the fish into large chunks and season lightly with salt and pepper, then place them evenly on top of the onions. There will be gaps, this doesn’t matter.

Stir the basil into the cream, season lightly with salt and pour evenly over the fish and onions. It will look as though you don’t have quite enough cream, but you do. Don’t be tempted to use more.

Now start laying the potato slices over the fish and onions, slightly overlapping them, until completely covered. Drizzle more olive oil all over the top – not too much – or dot it with butter.

Bake for around 40 minutes until the potatoes have lightly browned and are starting to char at the edges.

Serve with a simple green salad.

 

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