Kai time? Pie time
See yourself and the whānau through to spring with a couple of pies that are a serious step up from mince and cheese.
Iam an impatient sort of person who expects spring by about mid August, so here are two steadying pies to see out the rest of winter with a bang. Us humans love a good pie. There is a chicken pie recipe on a 4000-year-old Sumatran tablet. In Ancient Egypt, even Rameses the Great fancied a pie just like any other mere mortal, according to murals on his tomb (in my mind I’m imagining a one-dimensional Pharoah parking the chariot up at a Caltex to get a Mrs Mac’s). In medieval England they were originally known as “coffyns”, a word that was once devoid of all morbid association and merely meant box or basket. Make sure you use a good pastry if you don’t make it yourself. Paneton is the brand to look out for.
MY FISH PIE
Prep time: 25 mins / Cook time: 50 mins Serves: 4-6
I’ve tried to model this off a fish pie I once had in Edinburgh, which to this day is the best I’ve ever had. I only wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. Use whatever fish you have access to – as long as it’s fresh. Usually I’ll use monkfish or skate, fresh mussels, some prawns, perhaps a bit of salmon. A bit of smoked fish such as kahawai or gemfish is superb and will add a lovely depth of flavour. I like to add a bit of Pernod to the sauce as well, to give it a wee Gallic kick. This can be easily prepared ahead of time, reheats and also freezes very well.
1kg Agria spuds
Salt and pepper
Large handful of chives, finely chopped
500ml milk 50g butter 50g plain flour 3 tbsp white wine
About 850g mix of seafood (see my comments earlier) Large handful of dill, finely chopped
Dash of Pernod, if you fancy
Beaten egg, to brush the top
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Wash, peel and cut the spuds into chunks, and boil in plenty of salted water until they are soft. Drain, cool a little and mash with the milk, a generous amount of seasoning, the egg and chives, until you are left with a thick, smooth, creamy mash. Set aside.
In the meantime, make a bechamel sauce: bring the milk almost to the boil in a small saucepan. In another saucepan over a moderate-low heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Using a whisk, mix to a paste and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes before gradually whisking in the hot milk and the wine, until you are left with a thick white sauce. Add the Pernod, if you wish.
In a ceramic dish or deep pan, combine the bechamel with the seafood and chopped dill, and spread the mashed spud evenly over the surface. Brush the top with beaten egg and pop into the oven to bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the surface of the pie is a crisp golden brown. Allow to cool a little before serving.