Smoked Pollack Rarebit by Gillon Meller
Head chef at The River Cottage offers a favourite recipe
We love this smoky, fishy take on the Welsh Rarebit. The beer with fish is quite quirky – we think it’s great, but you can always revert to milk if it doesn’t work for you. You can also serve the rarebit as a canapé if you cut the slices into smaller pieces. Smoked pollack (smollack) is our fish of choice, but smoked haddock can stand in if necessary.
500g smoked pollack (or smoked haddock) fillet
300ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
200ml beer (a good traditional ale, not cheap lager)
1 good teaspoon wholegrain mustard
75g medium-strong Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 large slices of wholemeal bread
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the smoked fish in a large pan, cutting up the fillet if necessary so that it fits snugly, and pour the milk over (it should just cover the fish).
Put the lid on the pan and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. This should be sufficient to cook the fish through. If it isn’t quite cooked – if it does not break easily into flakes – turn the fillet over, cover again and leave in the hot milk for a couple more minutes.
Remove the fish from the pan, reserving the liquid, and set aside to cool a little, then break into large flakes, discarding any bones or bits of skin.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, stir in the flour to make a roux and cook gently for 2–3 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the fish-poaching milk if it has cooled down. Gradually add the fishy milk to the roux, followed by the beer, stirring all the time. Don’t worry if it fizzes up; the bubbles soon disappear.
When the sauce is thick and smooth, let it cook for a minute or two, then add the mustard, Cheddar and plenty of black pepper.
Taste and add salt too, if you think it needs it, though the fish will have made the milk quite salty.
Gently stir in the flaked fish and half the parsley.
Toast the bread. Spread the cheesy, fishy mixture on top and place under a hot grill until bubbling and golden. Serve straight away, with the rest of the parsley sprinkled on top.
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