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WanderSups: The food of love? Lobster fish pie

“This little lady is firmly in the ‘special occasion’ section of the repertoire; a celebration dish for loved ones and friends.” Valentine’s month is cue to serve the food of love - in Hannah Gregory’s case, fish pie pimped with lobster and Champagne. . .

WanderSups - Champagne, Tarragon & Lobster Fish Pie (61693711)
WanderSups - Champagne, Tarragon & Lobster Fish Pie (61693711)

I was in two minds whether to submit this recipe. There seems something a little amiss writing about tarting up the humble fish pie with lobster and Champagne in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

I to’d and fro’d for a bit, conscious of the insensitive note a recipe like this could strike, but it comes down to this: food for me is escapism, celebration, finding joy in the everyday. No matter how bad a week has been, I can turn it around by putting something great on the table, taking that first mouthful, leaning back in my chair as my taste buds get to work and slowly smile as all is right again.

And that is exactly what this pie is - she is not your regular midweek affair. This little lady is firmly in the ‘special occasion’ section of the repertoire; a celebration dish for loved ones and friends. Besides, this is the month of love and if you’ve got this far, you’ve also made it through January so hats off to you.

As with most of my recipes, this is easily scalable - want to wow your significant other with a pie perfectly made for two? Just divide the ingredients by three. Want to impress your closest gal pals for Galentine's Day? This is the dish to do it with.

Or, you can be really savvy, make it for sups and then get some of those foil trays and portion off the leftovers and freeze till needed - high-end ready meals at your fingertips.

This is also a great ‘make ahead’ dish, as you can cook and prepare the filling in advance and then just whack it in the oven when it comes to eat it.

However you decide to consume it and whoever you decide to consume it with, give it the love it deserves and buy your fishies from sustainable suppliers. I have used a mix of salmon, monkfish, tuna and cod along with the prawns and lobster. You can use any combination of fish fillets, just make sure they are skinned and boned.

Of course, the crowning glory of this dish is the crispy fried gnocchi which replaces the traditional mashed potato. You could go to the trouble of making your own gnocchi, should you be that way inclined, but the packet stuff you buy in the fresh pasta section works wonderfully here. I have no qualms in using the premade variety as long as it is fried, never boiled or we really are chewing on bullets.

You could of course use a Prosecco or Cava in place of the Champagne, but I love the ‘extraness’ of this dish and the Champagne creates that - plus you have the majority of the bottle left to either a) drink whilst you cook as chef’s perks or b) share with your diners whilst devouring the pie. I know which option I’d go for.

Given the rich filling and carby topping, you don’t need many accompaniments, but I like to serve seasonal greens such as kale or chard.

Champagne, Tarragon & Lobster Fish Pie

Serves 6

WanderSups - Champagne, Tarragon & Lobster Fish Pie (61693715)
WanderSups - Champagne, Tarragon & Lobster Fish Pie (61693715)

What you need :

● 1 live small lobster (I used a 600g guy)

● 600ml semi-skimmed milk

● 1 onion

● 1 carrot

● 1 bulb fennel

● 1 leek

● Knob butter

● Glug olive oil

● 2 tablespoons flour

● 2 teaspoons mustard

● 150ml champagne

● 50g Cheddar cheese

● 4 sprigs tarragon

● 500g mixed fish (I used monkfish fillet, salmon, tuna, cod)

● 100g scallops

● 6 raw, peeled king prawns

● 500g gnocchi

● Salt and pepper

How you do it :

1. If your lobster hasn’t been offed by the fishmonger, pop him in the freezer for an hour to make him docile. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and pop him in for eight minutes.

2. Remove from the water and allow to cool.

3. Remove the claws, crack them carefully and pick out all the meat into a bowl. Remove the head from the body and discard. Cut the tail in half and pull out all the meat and add to the bowl of claw meat.

4. Put the shells from the claw and tail into a large saucepan with the milk and simmer for 15 minutes before straining through a sieve.

5. Finely dice the onion, carrot, leek and fennel and cook gently in a large casserole dish with half the butter and oil. You want it to get sticky and soft but not take on too much colour.

6. Add the flour, mustard and Champagne, stirring to combine. Allow the alcohol to cook off before gradually adding the milk and stirring until all combined and silky.

7. Remove the tarragon leaves from the stalks and stir through.

8. Grate in the cheese, season and allow to cool.

9. Preheat the oven to 180C.

10. Add all the fish including the lobster to the mix and stir to combine.

11. Transfer to a pie dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

12. While the fish filling is baking, heat the remaining butter and oil in a frying pan. Add the gnocchi and fry until golden and crispy. Season and then carefully pour the gnocchi on top of the fish filling to create its lid. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes.

13. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

A former BBC MasterChef quarter finalist, Hannah hosts WanderSups supper clubs, “serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf”. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. To find out more follow @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com.

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