Al Brown shares his twist on the classic Kiwi fish pie using a kumara and potato mash for the topping.
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75g streaky bacon, chopped into 1/2 cm pieces
1 cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
3-4 sprigs of thyme, tied together with kitchen string
3 hard boiled eggs
500g smoked fish
250g potatoes, diced
500g kumara, diced
100g butter (two amounts of 25g + 50g chopped into small cubes)
½ cup cream
2 ¾ cups milk
Salt & pepper
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
Heat oil in a pan on a medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the bacon, onion, celery and garlic. Cook for about three minutes until the vegetables start to get soft.
Add the thyme bundle, turn the heat down low, and let that cook for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Once the onion has caramelised and the bacon is crispy, crumble in the hard boiled eggs and smoked fish. Set aside.
While the bacon mix is cooking down, bring water to the boil in a large pot. When it’s up to the boil, add the potatoes and set your timer for 10 minutes. When the potatoes have been boiling for 10 minutes, add the kumara to the pot, and set your timer for another 10 minutes.
Once both the poatoes and kumara are soft, drain them. Mash them and then stir in 25g butter, cream and 1/4 cup milk, and set aside.
To make the white sauce, add the butter (25g) to a medium sized pot on a medium heat, and let it melt. Once it’s melted, add the flour and stir like crazy. The flour and butter will form a paste. Make sure you cook this paste, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. By letting the flour ‘cook out’, you’ll avoid a floury-tasting white sauce.
Drizzle the milk (2 1/2 cups) into the roux, whisking all the while to get rid of any lumps. You’ll see the roux absorbing the milk as you add it, until eventually you have a thin sauce. When you’ve added all the milk, let the sauce cook without boiling for a few more minutes, until it thickens up. Set aside.
Finally, make the breadcrumb topping by placing the breadcrumbs into a roasting pan, and dotting the cubes of butter (50g) around. Bake these in a 150ºC oven for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until golden and delicious. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the pie, mix the white sauce and bacon mix together. Season to taste. Lay this in the bottom of a lasagne dish. Spoon the mashed kumara on top of the filling. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs.
Bake the whole thing at 180ºC for 30 minutes or so, until you can see the filling bubbling at the sides. Let the pie cool for a moment before devouring.