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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Smoked Haddock Chowder / Gruyere gratin

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*Part of the sizzling staffordshrie menu series*

Smoked haddock chowder is one of those fish dishes that is surprisingly comforting, whist being very hearty and nutritious. Its not too dissimilar from cullen skink, a scottish dish that is virtually symmetrical to this one. This dishes uses smoked haddock (as the title suggests) but you cna use other smoked fish if you wish (smoked trout is particularly good as an alternative). If you're not a fan of smoked fish, substitute for another by all means. I'm quite amenable when it comes to mixing it up.

This dish serves well as a meal in itself, although it can be adjusted to be lighter where necessary as a starter.

You will need (serves 4):
For the chowder:
450g smoked haddock (undyed preferrably, but ultimately up to you), skin removed and cut into 4 pieces.
4 rashers smoked bacon, cut into 1cm lardons
1 large onion, finely diced
500 ml bechamel
1 baking potato peeled and cut into a small dice (roughly 1/2 cm)
1 lemon zested and juiced
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp tarragon
tbsp butter


4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
1/2 pint of milk.
Salt and pepper
4 handfuls of gruyere cheese (grated). You can use mature cheddar as an alternative

The doing bit:

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onion and cook until the onion begins to soften.Add the bacon and cook for about 3-4 minutes, then add the potatoes and  bechamel. Heat until bubbling then reduce to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and zest, and herbs and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the haddock and cover the pan and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally then taste. Season accordingly with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture out into bowls and top with the gratin components (shown next).

For the gratin:

Add some salt and pepper to the milk in a pan, bring to a simmer then add the potatoes. When the potato slices have begun to soften take them out of the milk. You can use the milk for the chowder to make your bechamel at this stage if you prefer to do things the other way around. Add the slices to the top of the chowder and add the cheese to each one. Put bowls in a hot oven (220C) and cook until the cheese has melted and the potatoes have cooked through

Serve, and devour.

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