I love a fish pie but, when time is tight and I fancy something similar, I make fish in a white sauce and serve it with a pile of fluffy mash with cheese instead. Fancy restaurants would call that 'deconstructed' - I call it quicker and easier. This fish pie recipe below is a delicious midweek treat, and can be made in separate individual-sized portions to freeze.
1 large onion
a handful of chopped fresh thyme
350g skinless river cobbler or other firm white fish
350g skinless smoked haddock
300ml whole milk, plus extra to mash the potatoes
50g hard strong cheese
30g butter, plus extra to mash the potatoes
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
70g spinach leaves
a handful of fresh parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/350F/Gas 4. Wash and dice the potatoes (or drain if using tinned ones) and bring to the boil in a large saucepan. Reduce to a medium heat and cook until tender.
2. Meanwhile, poach the fish. Peel and slice the onion and put into a large saute pan or saucepan with the thyme. Add the fish, cover with the milk and poach on a low heat for around 8 minutes. Remove pan from the heat, take out the fish and onion pieces and place on a plate. Flake the fish with a fork. Reserve the liquid to make the sauce with later.
3. Boil or poach the eggs in a small saucepan for 6 minutes. Drain and carefully spoon on to the fish plate. Check the potatoes - they should be very soft by now. Drain and tip back into the saucepan. Mash with a little butter and milk. Grate the cheese into the mash and stir well to melt through.
4. Melt the butter in a milk pan over a low heat and add 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir to make a thick paste. Add the other tablespoon and repeat. Add a tablespoon of the reserved liquid and stir until well mixed. Repeat until blended into a thick sauce. You may not need to use all the poaching liquid.
5. Add the spinach, stir to wilt, then tip in the cooked eggs, mashing with the back of a fork to break up. Add the onion and flaked fish and mix to coat in the sauce.
6. Spoon the mixture into a large overproof casserole dish then top with the potato mash, starting at the edge and working inwards, using the fork to fluff up the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the mash is golden and crispy on top.
Read our interview with Jack Monroe in which she talks frankly about life on benefits, fussy eaters and why politicians just don't get the struggle so many parents have to put food on the table.
Recipe extracted from 'A Girl Called Jack' by Jack Monroe (Michael Joseph, £12.99)