Jack Monroe’s simple fish pie

I love a fish pie but, when time is tight and I fancy something similar, I make fish in a white sauce and serve it with a pile of fluffy mash with cheese instead. Fancy restaurants would call that ‘deconstructed’ – I call it ‘quicker and easier’. This fish pie recipe below is a delicious midweek treat, and can be made in separate individual-sized portions to freeze.

Serves 4–6


1kg potatoes, fresh or tinned
1 large onion
A handful of chopped fresh thyme
350g skinless river cobbler or other firm white fish
350g skinless smoked haddock
300ml whole milk, plus extra to mash the potatoes
4 eggs
50g hard strong cheese
30g butter, plus extra to mash the potatoes
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
70g spinach leaves
A handful of fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Wash and dice the potatoes (or drain if using tinned ones) and bring to the boil in a large saucepan of water. Reduce to a medium heat and cook until tender – 20 minutes for fresh potatoes, 5 minutes for tinned.

Meanwhile, poach the fish. Peel and slice the onion and put into a large sauté pan or saucepan with the thyme. Add the fish, cover with the milk, and poach on a low heat for around 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, take out the fish and onion pieces and place on a plate. Flake the fish with a fork. Reserve the poaching liquid to make the sauce with later.

Boil or poach the eggs in a small saucepan for 6 minutes. Drain and carefully spoon on to the fish plate. Check the potatoes – they should be very soft by now. When cooked, drain the potatoes and tip back into the saucepan. Mash with a little milk and butter. Grate the cheese into the mash and stir well to melt through.

Melt the butter in a milk pan over a low heat and add 1 tablespoon of the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon to make a thick paste. Add the other tablespoon of flour and repeat. Now take a tablespoon of the reserved poaching liquid and stir it into the paste until well mixed in. Repeat, gradually adding more liquid, until blended together in a thick sauce. You may not need to use all the poaching liquid. Add the spinach, stir to wilt, then tip in the cooked eggs, mashing them with the back of a fork to break up. Add the onion then the flaked fish and mix everything together well to coat in the sauce.

Spoon the fish mixture into a large ovenproof casserole dish then top with the potato mash, starting at the edge of the dish and working inwards, using a fork to fluff up the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the mash is golden and crispy on top.

All recipes can be made with a budget of just £10 a week

Recipes extracted from 'A Girl Called Jack' by Jack Monroe (Michael Joseph, £12.99)
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