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Fisherman's pie

(food styling/karoline boehm goodnick; wiqan ang for the globe)
By Robin Shepard
February 4, 2009

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Serves 6 generously

Something about the biting winter air makes us long for hearty food and familiar tastes. Here, white fish and shrimp, along with potatoes and cheese turn into a crusty casserole-style dish in a silky sauce. It's topped with mashed potatoes, which turn golden brown in the oven. The cheese can be left out of both the filling and the topping, if you like. Add a salad and dinner is served. For New Englanders, you can't beat hot and satisfying in one dish.

POTATOES

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt, and more to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup light whole milk
Black pepper, to taste
1. In a soup pot, combine the potatoes, water to cover, and the salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through.

2. Drain the potatoes and tip them back into the pot. With a potato masher, mash them thoroughly. Beat in the milk, salt, and pepper. Cover and set aside.

FISH

Butter (for the dish)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 1/2 cups whole milk, heated until scalding
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 pounds white fish (haddock, cod, hake, pollock), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and halved
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter a heavy casserole dish that will hold about 2 quarts.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until it is hot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter. When it melts, cook the onion, salt, and pepper, stirring often, for 8 minutes.

3. Stir in the flour, whisking constantly. Cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the mustard into the pan. Stir the milk into the mixture gradually, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer gently for 2 minutes.

4. Add the peas and let the mixture return to a boil. Add the fish and shrimp. Cook for 1 minute more.

5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and parsley. Pour the fish mixture into the casserole. Top the pie with spoonfuls of mashed potato. Use a blunt knife to spread it over the filling to the sides of the dish.

6. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

7. Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven. Turn on the broiler. Broil about 10 inches from the element for 3 minutes - watch closely so it doesn't burn - or until the top is golden. Robin Shepard