Compared to some of the amazing bloggers I’m getting to know, I’m no great chef. This time of year the fish I get are usually baked or broiled in some way and I don’t want my small house to stink from using my grill pan or deep fryer. Besides, when it’s blowing 30mph and the snow is coming down 3 inches per hour, I want something rich and satisfying between shoveling sessions. Yesterday not only did we have the weather for it, I had a bunch of fish on hand to make my first ever fish pie.
I am so lucky to have friends still in “the business.” A good buddy of mine just returned from a fishing trip out of Cape Cod and came home with bags of freshly filleted flounders. There are lots of good flounder to be found in the winter around here: I got some excellent blackbacks (winter flounder) a couple of weeks ago from Cape Ann Fresh Food – a local co-op/CSF. But my friend hooked me up with an awesome mix of blackback, yellowtail, dab and fluke. It was just like the old days, when even after my dad switched to lobstering, family friends would drop by after a trip with bags of haddock, whiting, monkish, gray sole or even a chicken halibut (I miss them most of all). With this bag of prized flounder I decided to try a fish pie like celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has listed here.
The recipe was simple: fish, veg, herbs and mashed potatoes. This version does not call for the white sauce that I see in most fish pie recipes. I used about a pound and a half of flounder, cut into small chunks then combined with sautéed onion, garlic, celery, carrot and mushroom. Doused it all with zest and juice from a big lemon and some olive oil, mixed it well, topped with a little cheddar then a nice layer of mashed potatoes. By the time the cars were cleared of snow (about 40-45 minutes) it was golden brown and bubbly.
So how was it? My wife was apprehensive, but she like Jamie Oliver so she gave it a try. We were both impressed, even though it was not a radical change from my usual dishes, it was delicious. The small pieces of flounder blended so well with all those veggies and because they were sautéed beforehand, they had lots of flavor without making the pie “soupy.” Also, with 4 different types of flounder, each bite had a slightly different taste.
I figured it would be OK, but now I’m looking forward to having fun with this concept: different veg, herbs, and different fish. The salmon and smoked haddock in the original recipe sound decadent but I imagine nearly any fish/veg combination would create a warm, comforting (and surprisingly not too heavy) fish pie for a cold winter day.
Shout out to my boy ZJ for that unexpected gift of flounder!