This is a riff on the classic, where you gently poach a fillet of smoked haddock in cream, before mixing with strong Cheddar and slow-cooked leeks. This is then spread on toast and crisped under the grill, until it bubbles and caramelises.
On those cold days when the courgettes have finally given in to frost, the ground is hard but the veg garden beds need a lot of work, this is the kind of thing we make in the morning to keep us going all day.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
350g fillet of undyed smoked haddock
1 bay leaf
100ml whole milk
150ml double cream
400g leeks (about 2-3)
50g unsalted butter
200g good-quality mature Cheddar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 pieces of fresh white sourdough (or even a really good tin loaf)
Place the smoked haddock and bay leaf in a saucepan and pour over the milk and cream. You might need to cut the fish in two so that it fits snugly. Season well with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer with the lid on for just a few minutes (five max), until the haddock is flaking and just cooked. Pour the contents of the pan into a separate bowl.
Next, slice the leeks in half lengthways and then across into thin slices, wash in the sink to remove any grit, then chuck into the pan while still wet, along with the butter and a generous pinch of salt. Put the pan on a medium heat and cook the leeks with the lid on until they’re sweet and tender, stirring every so often and making sure they don’t brown, about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the skin off the haddock and flake the fish into the cream, looking out for any bones. When the leeks are ready, pour this cream into the pan and give it a good mix.
On a very low heat, grate in the Cheddar, add the mustard and grate in the nutmeg, mixing until the Cheddar melts. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Toast the bread until it is crisp on both sides and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Generously spread the haddock mix over the toast, about 1-2cm thick and right up to the edges.
Place under the grill until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately! Great on its own, but excellent with a cold Bloody Mary and a crisp peppery salad.