Haddock & Cornish Yarg Pie with Potato Pastry Crust

Cornish Yarg is a mild yet flavoursome firm cheese not to be confused with the Cornish ‘Yarp’ – the only word uttered by Michael in ‘Hot Fuzz’.

Preparation time: A long time
Cooking time: 80 – 90 minutes
Skill level: Medium
Makes: Enough for four
Recipe: Rick Stein


For the pastry

  • potatoes – peeled and cut into chunks – 350g
  • self-raising flour – 225g
  • butter – cut into small pieces – 175g
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • cold water – 2tbsp
  • salt – 1tsp
  • pepper – 15 (exactly) turns of the pepper mill

For the filling

  • milk – 600ml
  • fish stock – 300ml
  • haddock fillet – 750g
  • cooked, peeled prawns – 100g
  • leeks – 275g
  • carrot – finely chopped – 50g
  • celery – finely chopped – 50g
  • onion – finely chopped – 50g
  • Cornish Yarg cheese – grated – 100g
    (or mature Cheddar if the Yarg eludes you)
  • butter – 65g
  • nutmeg
  • s & p

For the bouquet garni

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small bunch of parsley with stalks
  • the leaves from the centre of the celery
  • 1 small sprig of thyme

Ok, this is quite a long and involved process, so don your MasterChef apron, turn on 6Music and let’s get started.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until soft. Mash and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, pour the milk and stock into a large pan, bring to the boil, add the haddock and simmer for 5-7 minutes until firm and opaque.

Lift fish onto a plate and when cool enough, break into large flakes. Discard the skin and any rogue bones.

Clean the leeks, finely chop 50g of them and set aside. Finely slice the remainder.

Melt 25g of the butter in a large pan and gently fry the sliced leek for 2-3 minutes until just soft. Lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside

Add the diced leek, onion, carrot and celery to the same pan (adding a little more butter if necessary) and gently cook for 10 minutes without browning.

Add the rest of the butter and once melted stir in the flour and cook for a minute.

Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the haddock cooking liquid to form a smooth creamy sauce. Bring to the boil stirring constantly and add the bouquet garni (tied together). Simmer gently for 30 minutes and then remove the bouquet garni and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Stir the flaked fish, prawns, reserved leeks and Cornish Yarg* into the sauce and then spoon into a deep 1.75 litre (3 pint) pie dish. Push your Pie Bird into the centre of the mixture and set aside to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 200c (gas mark 6)

Now for the pastry. Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Next stir in the cold mashed potato. Add the water and stir everything together with a round bladed knife until it forms a round ball of pastry.

Turn out onto a floured surface and quickly knead until smooth. Chill for 20-30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is slightly larger than the top of the pie dish. Trim off any irregular bits, roll into a strip, brush with water and press onto the rim of the dish. Brush with some more water.

Cut a slit into the top of the pastry lid and gently lay over the pie with the bird sticking its head out of the slit. Squeeze and crimp the edges to form a seal.

Brush with the egg and decorate with shapes made from any pastry trimmings.

Place in a pre-heated oven and cook for 35 – 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve, congratulate yourself, pour a glass of wine and eat.

Verdict: The many elements that make this dish are to be savoured, very tasty indeed and wholly approved of by Archaeologue-J-P and Potkicker-T. The potato crust is so much more than just a pastry and has something of a dumpling about it – those 15 turns of pepper certainly help. Really very delicious indeed.

Drink: A cheeky provençale rosé.

Entertainment: Endless sweeping statements about the English for the benefit of a Frenchman.

* If your cheesemonger says Narp to Yarg then say Yarp to Cheddar.


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