Sunday, 13 February 2011


A few weeks back we had a rather tasty smoked haddock gratin for brunch at La Vie en Rose on Broadway Market. It was so delicious that we just had to work up our own version for our next brunch club - smoked haddock, spinach and potato gratin with soft egg.

Here's the recipe we cobbled together for our test run today. We did a bit of research across the web about making the ideal smoked haddock gratin - here's a few interesting things we found:
  • Poaching the haddock in milk: Some recipes we found called for the haddock to be poached in milk first - others where it did not. It reduces the saltiness apparently - and you can use some of the milk in the white sauce. We liked this idea so included it. 
  • Un-dyed vs dyed smoked haddock: Many recipes called for un-dyed smoked haddock but we struggled to find any that wasn't dyed a funky yellow colour. Why do they dye Haddock yellow? Apparently it's a commercial process to mimic the colour the fish goes when you smoke it properly. Never been one for faux anything - we would always choose the un-dyed if we can find it
  • Experiment with your cheese mix: Whilst we used cheddar and parmesan in our gratin we think you could probably lift this dish a touch more with more complex cheese mix - gruyere springs to mind. We might try that next time. 
  • Adding eggs into baking dish a nice touch for brunch: We didn't have any eggs in the larder for this test run but intend to bake a soft egg into it for our brunch. Optional but again can help lift the dish. 
Ingredients (serves 3 - 4)  
400g smoked haddock fillets
Milk for poaching
50g butter
25g plain flour
175ml single cream
1/4 tsp Cayenne
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan 

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 bag spinach
10 or so baby new potatoes 
Two eggs (optional)
Green leaves for salad (e.g rocket)
Tbsp Lemon juice, olive oil and mustard for dressing 

Poach / par-boil your components:
  • Parboil your potatoes with skin on in gently simmering water for 12 - 15 minutes. Checking with fork until they are soft but firm. Drain and rinse in cold water to arrest the cooking process. When cool cut into 1 inch thick slices 
  • Place the haddock in a saucepan, pour over enough milk to cover, bring to a simmer and poach gently for 4-5 minutes. Drain keep the milk, allow to cool and gently pull the fish away from the skin in large chucks and flakes, keeping your eyes open for any stray bones. 
  • Blanch your spinach in boiling water for a brief moment - 1 minute or so. Then drain and rinse in cold water. Try to squeeze as much water out as possible. 
Assemble the base:
  • Lightly grease a baking dish with butter and randomly scatter the potatoes and chunks of haddock into the dish and drape with spinach. 
  • Dont pack it too tightly you want gaps for the white sauce to penetrate and space for your soft eggs if you want them
Prepare white sauce:
  • Whisk in your mustard, lemon juice and spices into the cream. 
  • Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. 
  • Gradually stir in the cream mixture and 175ml or so of the reserved poaching milk. 
  • On a gentle heat stir and simmer until thickened. Taste and season appropriately. 
  • Fold in all but handful of the cheeses and when it has melted pour cream mixture over fish and potato mixture
  • If you want the soft egg version - use a large spoon to create two nestled hollows to crack an egg into each of them  
Top off, bake and serve:
  • Mix together the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese and sprinkle over the top. Add a few small knobs of butter. 
  • Cook in a preheated oven 190C/ 375F/ Gas 5, for 15 - 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. 
  • Serve with a green leaf salad with a sharp lemon / mustard dressing


hopeeternalcookbook said...

Smoked Haddock Florentine is one of my all time favourites which I usually serve in individual portions. Your version using a gratin dish with the crumbs on top looks great - yes please to the egg by the way! I will definitely have to give it a go your way.
'Meanderings through my Cookbook'

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