Baked Smoked Haddock with Charred Leeks and Potato Gnocchi
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course or serves 8 as a starter
With the shorter days and longer chilly evenings this dish is the perfect hug from the oven. The smell of smoked haddock baking is delicious and always puts a smile on my face. I serve it with steamed broccoli or buttered spinach, crusty fresh bread and a large glass of dry white wine for a lovely heart-warming informal dinner.
I made and served this dish as a main course, but as we were cooking it, Ross mentioned that it would also make a lovely starter (see Cook’s Notes), and I agree. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Ingredients & Method
For the smoked haddock sauce
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons rapeseed oil
- 150g skinless, boneless smoked haddock trimmings, roughly diced
- 80g (prepared weight) leeks, washed and sliced
- 80g (prepared weight) celery, diced
- 80g (prepared weight) onions, finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 125ml dry white wine
- 500ml fish stock
- 200ml double cream
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the baked smoked haddock, charred leeks and potato gnocchi
- 2 large leeks, trimmed and washed
- 320g fresh potato gnocchi (shop-bought is fine, or for a suitable homemade gnocchi recipe, see Cook's Notes)
- 4 x 100g skinless, boneless smoked haddock fillets
- 1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Parmesan cheese shavings, to garnish (optional)
First prepare the smoked haddock sauce. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the smoked haddock trimmings, leeks, celery, onions, garlic, thyme, coriander seeds and fennel seeds, lightly season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 7–8 minutes or until the vegetables start to colour, stirring regularly. Deglaze the pan with the wine (letting it bubble over a high heat for a couple of minutes or so, stirring and scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon), then increase the heat and boil rapidly until the wine has reduced by two-thirds. Add the stock, bring the sauce back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes or until the stock has reduced by half. Stir in the cream and simmer for a further 8 minutes, until the sauce lightly coats the back of a metal spoon.
Remove from the heat and pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean jug, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, then set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Next prepare the baked smoked haddock, charred leeks and potato gnocchi. Preheat the grill to high and preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Place the whole leeks on the rack in a grill pan and char the outer layer of the leeks under the hot grill, turning them occasionally – this will take about 7–8 minutes (you want the outer layers pretty well charred without them catching fire). Transfer the charred leeks to the prepared baking tray and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until soft (but not squidgy) and cooked all the way through, but still keeping their shape. Remove from the oven and transfer the leeks to a tray or plate, cover with cling film and set aside while you cook the gnocchi.
Blanch the gnocchi (recipe) in a pan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain well and divide them between 4 individual ovenproof serving dishes (pie dishes or mini cast iron frying pans are perfect for this).
Slice the charred leeks into 5mm-thick slices and arrange in the dishes over the gnocchi, dividing evenly, then pour over the sauce. Brush the haddock fillets with the oil and then place 1 fish fillet into each dish on top of the gnocchi, leeks and sauce.
Place the dishes in the oven and bake for 12 minutes, by which time the sauce will be bubbling and the fish should be lightly golden and cooked. Sprinkle over the parsley and Parmesan shavings, if you like, and serve with steamed broccoli or buttered spinach and some crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.
To serve as a starter, cut the 4 fish fillets in half to make 8 even-size pieces. Prepare the rest of the dish as directed above, then assemble the starters in small individual ovenproof dishes and reduce the final baking time to 8 minutes instead.
For a suitable homemade gnocchi recipe (see ingredients list and method above) see my recipe for Pan-fried John Dory and Gnocchi with Cockle Velouté.