16 April, 2018


Neighbourhood Fish & Potato Pie with Rye Gratin

I name this "neighbourhood" pie as it was the gift of fish from a neighbour and some freshly dug potatoes that inspired the recipe. The rye crust complements the earthiness of the potatoes, but any bread can be used for the gratin.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • 2-3 potatoes - about 400g, chopped into approximately 2cm cubes
  • 50 g butter
  • 1/3 cup white flour
  • 1 ¾ cups milk
  • 1 heaped teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons capers plus 1 tablespoon caper juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 400 g white-fleshed fish - cut into 2cm chunks (I used fresh-caught cod)

Gratin Crust

  • 3 slices rye or sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons 30g melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • First cook the potatoes. Peel first if using older potatoes, but fresh dug or new potatoes will generally have thinner skins. Cover with boiling water and boil for about 10-12 minutes until the flesh is just beginning to yield when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain in a colander and leave to cool slightly.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mix to create a roux (paste). Cook for one minute. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and gently simmer for five minutes until thickened. Add the mustard, capers and juice, parsley, lemon juice and generous grind of black pepper. Cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat and add the chopped fish and drained potatoes. Tip into a shallow baking dish, approximately 20 x 25 cm.
  • To make the gratin, use a large knife to chop the rye slices into course bread crumbs (or use a food processor). Drizzle with melted butter and combine with the paprika. Spread evenly over the fish mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the sides and the gratin is golden and crisp.
  • Serve with autumn salad leaves simply dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

I planted my potatoes as an afterthought this summer, and my resulting harvest reflects this. Firstly, the patch I plant my pumpkins and potatoes in was already full with zucchini and squash by the time I thought about potatoes. It is too easy to get over-zealous when sowing seeds for the summer garden. So the potatoes were relegated to a potato tower made from discarded fencing.

While this can work rather well if done properly, unfortunately this tower ended up in a corner behind the compost with little sun, and quickly became covered with climbing spaghetti squash blocking out any potential sun rays.

My other mishap was that I hadn’t prepared my seed potatoes in advance. On discovering some Desiree and Agria tucked away in the cupboard with long snaking shoots, I planted them. I have done this before with some success, but with one variety only and small shoots.

Fortunately all is not lost and my meagre harvest has been turned into several delicious meals. The Agria were sliced paper thin, skin and all, to make a rustic potato and onion gratin. The crispy gratin crust was so popular with the family that a gift of fresh-caught fish from a neighbour became a fish and potato pie topped with gratin made from a staling end of homemade rye sourdough.

A quick tip when cooking potatoes. Cover new or freshly dug potatoes with boiling water in the pot, while start stored potatoes from cold water when cooking. We have a short saying in our house to remember this – old cold, new hot.

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