Smoked Haddock and Cockle Consommé
Smoked Haddock and Cockle Consommé

Smoked Haddock and Cockle Consommé

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    Serves 8
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The method used to cook this soup technically means it is not a consommé, but as the broth is cooked in a pressure cooker and is very clear, in my opinion it is as good as a consommé.

We could call this cheat’s consommé, if you prefer.

I adore smoked haddock, but then again I quite enjoy smoked foods in general. It’s the depth of flavour, the intriguing method of how the flavour is achieved and simply the fact that with wood and good-quality ingredients, the character and flavour of the food can be manipulated to achieve something rather remarkable.

I could smoke the haddock myself, but we do have a good supplier which means I can concentrate on cold-smoking my venison, lamb and other meat joints. In all fairness, I do not have that much experience in cold smoking fish.

I tend to hot-smoke fish and meat using a method that I concocted called the ‘quick smoking method’. I refer to this in my cookbook The British Larder A Cookbook for All Seasons. I hope you are intrigued enough to go and have a look!photo of Smoked Haddock and Cockle Consommé

Ingredients & Method

For the baked golden beetroot

  • 1kg golden beetroot
  • 1 clove garlic, left whole and unpeeled but gently crushed
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the steamed cockles

  • 1kg fresh cockles (in shell), washed
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 1 stick celery, sliced ½ onion, sliced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 400ml dry white wine

For the consommé

  • 1.3kg boneless smoked (undyed) haddock fillet, skin on
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 250g golden beetroot trimmings (leftover from the baked golden beetroot above – see method)
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds cockle stock (from the steamed cockles above – see method)
  • 1.2 litres fish stock
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley

For the garnish

  • 16 new potatoes
  • 16 baby leeks rapeseed oil, for brushing

First, prepare the baked golden beetroot. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Peel the beetroot, then place them on a large piece of foil with the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Close the parcel and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for about 2 hours or until the beetroot is tender – it is cooked when you can insert a knife easily without resistance.

Remove from the oven and leave the beetroot to cool in the foil parcel for about 1 hour, then remove from the foil and use a Parisienne baller or melon baller to scoop balls from the cooked beetroot. Keep the trimmings for making the consommé and set the beetroot balls aside until needed for the garnish.

Next, steam the cockles. Heat a medium saucepan (choose one with a tight-fitting lid) over a high heat. Once the pan is hot, quickly add the cockles, leek, celery, onion and parsley to the hot pan, shake and then pour in the wine. Quickly clamp on the lid, shake the pan and then cook the cockles over a high heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour the cockles into a colander set over a bowl and leave to drain. Pass the stock through a piece of muslin cloth and then pick the cockle meat from the shells, discarding any cockles that remain unopened. Keep the cockle meat chilled until needed for the garnish and use the stock for making the consommé. Discard the shells, vegetables and parsley.

Prepare the smoked haddock for the consommé. Remove the skin from the haddock (reserve the skin), cut 8 pieces (40–50g each) from the fish, then keep these haddock pieces chilled until needed for the garnish. Cut the rest of the haddock, including the skin, into chunky pieces to make the consommé.

Now, prepare the consommé. Place all the ingredients for the consommé, including the chunky pieces of fish and skin you have just cut, into a pressure cooker. Secure the lid, bring the pressure cooker up to pressure over a medium heat and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat, release the pressure, then leave to stand and infuse (with the lid left on) for 1 hour. Remove the lid and pass the stock through coffee filter paper into a bowl (discard the solids left in the filter). Chill the bowl of consommé over ice until cold, then refrigerate. Once chilled, pass the consommé through another coffee filter paper – it should now be clear and golden in colour. Set aside in the fridge until you are nearly ready to serve.

Finally, prepare the garnish. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Cook the new potatoes in a pan of salted boiling water for about 20 minutes or until tender, then drain and cool slightly. At the same time, cook the baby leeks in a separate pan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain, refresh in iced water and drain again. Peel the potatoes, then cut them into 1cm-thick slices (you want 24 slices in total).

Place the 8 reserved haddock pieces on a baking tray, brush all over with rapeseed oil and then add the potato slices and the reserved golden beetroot balls to the same baking tray. Bake in the oven for 6 minutes, until the fish is cooked and the vegetables are warmed through. Meanwhile, bring the consommé to the boil in a pan, then adjust the seasoning if needed. At the same time, reheat the reserved cockle meat and leeks – pour a ladleful of consommé into a saucepan and heat over a high heat until simmering. Add the cockle meat and leeks and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain.

To serve, arrange the potatoes, leeks, cockle meat and beetroot balls in warm soup-bowl-plates. Carefully pour the hot consommé around, then flake the baked haddock pieces and place on top. Serve.