Roast Conger Eel

Conger eel is another neglected fish, although when I wrote about it in the London Evening Standard I received an enthusiastic crop of letters from the West Country. This traditional method of cooking eel I found in Dorothy Hartley’s Food in England. The cider helps to cut the gelatinous tendency of the fish. The dish may splatter when cooking, but this can’t be helped.

Ingredients

  • a 30-46 cm/12-18 in piece of middle-cut conger eel
  • 1 onion, halved
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 apple
  • lard or dripping
  • 300 ml/½ pint cider

For the forcemeat

  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • butter
  • 275 g/10 oz breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • double handful of parsley, chopped
  • single handful of sage, chopped

Method

Rub the inside of the fish with the cut sides of the onion, then discard the onion. Make the forcemeat by softening the chopped onion in butter, then adding the remaining ingredients and frying lightly until golden. Stuff the fish with the forcemeat and season. Tie up with string. Cut the apple in half and use it to plug either end of the fish, securing with wooden cocktail sticks or wooden kebab skewers.

Melt a little lard or dripping in a roasting tin, add the fish and pour over the cider. Roast in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 40 minutes, basting frequently. Serve with a watercress salad or a crisp green vegetable.

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