It feels like a waste not to utilise the smokiness of the haddock in a creamy sauce, especially at this time of year when we are starting to embrace Autumnal comfort food. Here the sauce is lightly spiced with nutmeg and black pepper, with added warmth from a glug of whisky. Smoke and fat are natural bedfellows, though this dish still has enough vegetable content and balance to feel refined rather than heavy. Toasted rainbow chard is both incredibly moreish and simple to make: a bit like an earthier and healthier version of Chinese “crispy seaweed. You can swap nutmeg for clove or whisky for vermouth. You can also utilise the stems of the chard and sweat them with the onion and fennel at the start.
Toasted rainbow chard
Garlic oil or neutral oil
- Cut the rainbow chard into large organic pieces, cutting across the stem where it meets the leaf.
- Toss lightly with oil then place on a baking tray and cook at 130C for about 20 mins until toasted and crispy. Season lightly with salt and sugar.
Poached Smoked Haddock
1 Leek, halved, washed and finely sliced
¼ Fennel, finely sliced
25g Salted butter
Pinch Fennel seeds
2 Bay leaf
4 Thyme sprigs
150ml Whipping cream
1 tsp Coarse grain mustard (or Dijon)
Pinch Black pepper, about 8 turns on a mill
Pinch Nutmeg, grated on microplane, about 10 strokes
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 Smoked haddock fillet, skinned and cut into 2 thick pieces
2 handfuls Wild mushrooms, well washed and drained
- Sweat the leek and fennel in the butter with the fennel seeds, bay leaves and thyme for 15 mins or until softened without colour in a pan with a lid, just large enough to hold the fish and vegetables snugly.
- Pour over the cream, milk and whisky and bring to a boil, then add the mustard, pepper, nutmeg and garlic, remove from the heat and add the pieces of smoked haddock fillet, just submerging it.
- Cook very gently for about 3-5 mins depending on the heat and the thickness of the fish, then stir in the wild mushrooms just to wilt. Check seasoning and mix a little lemon juice.
- Serve this in a warm bowl and scatter on top the toasted chard pieces. Serve with some buttered malted brown bread on the side.