Wise Men’s Pie

After Boxing Day is over I begin to want hot food again and by then fish seems preferable to meat, but the shops are often still closed. Frozen fish can be dull, but one fish which loses nothing with freezing - in fact many people feel it improves in texture - is squid. So if you put some in your freezer before Christmas you can make this very delicious and different kind of fish pie which we will be most refreshing after all the rich food and cold meats.

Ingredients

  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • ½ pint (300 ml) milk
  • 2 lb (1 kg) squid, thawed if frozen
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 4 oz (125 g) mushrooms
  • 4 oz (125 g) butter
  • 1 oz (25 g) plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml spoon) lemon juice
  • lb (1.1 kg) large potatoes
  • a little cream or top of the milk
  • salt, black pepper

Method

Put the saffron strands in a small saucepan with the milk and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir round, cover the pan and leave on one side. Prepare the squid by pulling off the head and tentacles and then discarding the head and black eyes but keeping the tentacles and the main body of the squid. Then press out the soft, white innards of the squid and pull out the transparent plastic-like bone. This may all seem a bit strange at first but is easy to do. Then cut the squid across into ½-inch (1 cm) rings and put these into a sieve over a bowl on one side.

Peel the onion, halve it and slice it fairly thinly in half circles. Cut the pepper in half, discard the seeds and slice it fairly thinly. Slice the mushrooms across in medium thick slices. Melt half the butter in a large, deep frying-pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onions and peppers and cook, stirring often, until really soft and slightly browned at the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Gradually stir in the saffron milk, return to the heat and just bubble, stirring for a minute or two until thickened. Add the mushrooms and squid and stiff over the heat for 4-5 minutes, just until the squid has turned opaque. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, season with salt and black pepper and turn the mixture into a fairly shallow ovenproof dish.

Peel the potatoes, quarter them and boil or steam until cooker. Mash with the remaining butter and a little cream on top of the milk. Season with salt and black pepper. Spread the potato evenly on top of the squid mixture and criss-cross it in a pattern with a fork.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 9/475°F/240°C. Put the pie in at the very top for about 15 minutes until the potato is speckled brown on top.

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