Mark Hix’s Monkfish Cheek & Fennel Pie

Monkfish cheek and fennel pie


Mark Hix spills the dish on his recipe for a meaty monkfish cheek and fennel pie


Monkfish, cod and skate cheeks are a bit easier to get hold of these days, with the increased demand from restaurants. A few years ago you may have got a slightly odd look from your fishmonger if you had asked for them.

Ingredients
• 1 litre fish stock
• 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed
• 450-500g monkfish cheeks, trimmed and halved if large
• 70g butter
• 60g plain flour
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
• 2 tablespoons double cream

For the topping:
• 1-1.2kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 50-60g butter
• milk
• 2-3 tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs

Method
1 Bring the fish stock to the boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, quarter the fennel bulb, cut into 2 cm chunks and separate the layers.
2 Add the fennel to the stock and simmer for 6–7 minutes until tender, then remove with a slotted spoon and leave to cool on a plate.
3 Add the monkfish cheeks to the stock and simmer for 2–3 minutes, then drain in a colander over a bowl to reserve the stock.
4 Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, over a low heat for about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the hot stock, keeping the sauce smooth. Season, then simmer gently for about 30–40 minutes. The sauce should be really quite thick by now; if not, let it simmer for a little longer.
5 Meanwhile, for the topping, cook the potatoes in a pan of salted water until tender.
6 Drain well and return to the pan over a low heat to dry out for 30 seconds or so. Take off the heat and mash thoroughly, incorporating the butter and a little milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7 Preheat the oven to 200°C. Stir the monkfish cheeks, fennel, chopped parsley and cream into the sauce. Re-season if necessary, then transfer to a large pie dish or individual ones.
8 Spoon or pipe the mashed potato onto the pies and scatter over the breadcrumbs.
9 Bake for 30 minutes (or 20 minutes for individual pies) until the topping is golden brown and the filling is hot.

Recipe courtesy of Mark Hix, extracted from Hix Oyster & Chop House

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