Weekend Cook: Make our smoked haddock with cheese and truffle sauce
PUBLISHED: 10:30 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:38 29 February 2020
A touch of locally-produced truffle oil gives this bowl of comfort food a luxurious finish.
Comfort food usually errs towards naughty rather than nice, right? There's a reason heartbroken film stars are shot reaching for a tub of Ben and Jerry's when they're seeking solace.
For some it's ice cream. For others (and I know many) comfort comes in the form of a giant bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk. Me? I'm ashamed to admit it, but my go-to trash food is cornflake cake mix. Not formed into cakes, nope. Just the butter, chocolate and syrup, melted together and stirred with cereal.
Another, more unusual ingredient I turn to when I need a 'hug in a bowl' is smoked fish. When I was a kid, I remember the warmth of bowls of mashed potato, pooled with butter and stirred with a combination of smoked cod and haddock. The seafood came from our local fish and chip shop, which also had a wet fish counter (a rarity these days) and a fish tank brimming with captivatingly sparkly tropical specimens set into the wall.
This week's recipe combines that memory with a more recent one - a dish my husband had at Christmas time during our annual booze-fuelled night out with our closest friends. I'm not the only one who had food envy at his dish of haddock with Alpine cheese sauce, while I tucked into another plate of roast turkey.
The fish and sauce here are jazzed up with a touch - just a little - of truffle oil. This version is East Anglian grown rapeseed oil from Proudly Norfolk member Yare Valley, infused with a speck of real truffle. While truffle oil can seem expensive, if you can afford it, it's a worthy contender to keep in the cupboard. It lasts for ages as you only need a small drop to impart its earthy, woodland flavour. Just 1tsp is needed to enhance this sauce. It's beautiful through pasta, in macaroni and cheese, drizzled over a strong Alpine or blue cheese with a touch of sweet honey. If you're going to invest though, do go for a variety that has a real piece of truffle in. Flavoured oils are less potent and can cost almost as much, but are a false economy as you end up using more to get the flavour out. Find out where to buy Yare Valley's version here.
Smoked haddock with Comte and truffle sauce and crispy kale
(serves 2 - or double for 4)
140g fillet of smoked haddock (or cod) per person
30g unsalted butter
30g plain flour
100ml single cream
1 clove garlic, grated
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1 bay leaf
1tsp grain mustard
1tsp Yare Valley Truffle Oil
75g Comte or aged Gouda cheese, grated
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm pieces
1tbsp fresh chives finely chopped
1 handful cavolo nero or small kale leaves washed
Make the cheese sauce first. Melt the butter in a small pan. Add all the flour and stir quickly on a medium heat until the mixture comes together and becomes a little crumbly and toasted.
Remove from the heat. Whisk in the cream to make a paste. Put back over a low heat and gradually add the milk, whisking all the time until smooth and spoon coating. Sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps. Clean the pan you were using then pour the mix back in. Add the garlic, mustard, bay leaf and nutmeg and warm through again. Add the cheese and truffle oil, stir to melt then taste for seasoning adding a touch of pepper and a little salt if needed.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes, cooking until tender. Drain, drizzle with olive oil, chives and seasoning and set aside, covered, to keep warm.
For the kale, rub it in a touch of oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake at 200c for around 10 minutes, checking and turning regularly. You want it crispy all over, not coloured. Set aside.
When you're ready to eat, pop the fish fillets on a greased tray, skin side up, and cook under the grill for 7-9 minutes until piping hot through.
To serve, warm through the sauce. Portion the potatoes between two bowls. Place the fish on top. Spoon over the sauce and dress with the crispy kale. Finish with a flourish of extra truffle oil if you like.
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