perfect whatever the weather: nigel slater's smoked haddock, potato and bacon

Nigel Slater's smoked haddock, potato and bacon
Why Rachel, when your profile says that you love to cook seasonally, are you posting a dish which screams winter comfort in June? A reasonable question.

Well it is for several reasons, one of which is the bloody English weather. After a weekend away enjoying balmy sunny weather (I even managed to catch a touch of sun), I have returned to London to grey skies and a distinct chill in the air. It feels like 2012 all over again. Bah!

But all is not lost. (When is it ever?) Things aren't so bad; I have returned home with a bag of delicious food, which I have to say is what usually happens when I have visited my beloved papa; for Henry, like me, loves his food and adores packing his daughter off to London with a few choice goodies. 

On Saturday morning, Henry and I strolled down to Bingley Market to see Graham the Fishmonger. We didn't really need anything; Henry had already bought Graham out of his entire stock of hot smoked salmon earlier in the week (some of my food goodie bag treats), but I like to say hello and to thank Graham because firstly his fish is so fabulous (worth a trip to Bingley Market if you can) and also, because very kindly, he keeps an eye out for Henry, who is not quite as chipper at 82 as he once was.

Needless to say, Graham did not let us leave empty-handed. (Did I mention what a wonderful chap he is?) "Smell this!" he said, as he drew my attention to some smoked haddock. Well I did as instructed and was delighted at how subtle the smell was. It turns out that this is a particular Yorkshire delicacy - Grimsby smoked haddock. Apparently this is brined before cold-smoking. This part of the Slow Food movement's UK Ark of Taste Forgotten Foods Project, which aims to return this forgotten delicacies to market. 

As smoked fish goes, smoked haddock isn't one of my favourites as I often find it a little overpowering, but this Grimsby Haddock smelt wonderful. So needless to say, Henry had to buy some and Graham threw in another piece for nothing, because . . . well, I am not sure why. Probably since my father is a very good customer and just because Graham is a thoroughly nice bloke! 

At 82, Henry eats exactly whatever he pleases, which by and large seems to be cream cakes. He says he is making up for lost time and I suspect it is something to do with wartime and post war rationing. And while I won't deny him his cakes (which frankly would be a little like King Canute allegedly trying to hold back the tide), I do think the odd vegetable once in a while won't hurt.  

Of the two pieces of smoked haddock, one immediately went into the freezer, as I was planning on bringing this smaller piece home with me. I cooked the second piece for Henry in a very traditional Florentine sauce which we had with some simple buttered Jersey Royals and English asparagus. It only seemed fair to give Henry something rather mild, since I had nearly poisoned him the night before. I say poisoned . . . it wasn't poisoning exactly, more of an assault with a less-than-lethal weapon. This in this instance was my Thai red curry paste. More of this later, but suffice it to say I may have overdone the chilli side of things.  

So I had cooked a suitably retro, bland and creamy dish of Smoked Haddock Florentine to soothe Henry's bruised taste buds and it was also a way for me to slip in some healthy eating spinach without him really noticing.

Henry says to let you know that he would love to read the blog post about all of this when I get around to writing it, but unfortunately he is finding it difficult to read since his eyes are still watering.(He has also told me that he is not going to let me forget my chilli disaster any time soon.) Yikes! 

So Haddock Florentine, while very nice, isn't really my thing as I tend to like my food a little spicier. I was a bit stumped as to what to do with my haddock swag when I got home. I suppose the first things I thought of were kedgeree (of which I am not fond at all) or fish cakes (which personally I thought might not be doing justice to this rather lovely piece of fish). So yet again, when I am stumped I turn to the master of simplicity and good taste, Nigel Slater

Now here's the thing, Nigel Slater's smoked haddock with potato and bacon is most definitely a winter dish; it also isn't spicy at all. It appears on page 66 of Kitchen Diaries II in February and in The Guardian in a January 2012 article about Nordic food (which immediately puts a chill in the air). But the dish which Nigel describes so evocatively and persuasively as a "masterful combination of smoked fish and cream. Cream and smoke produce a calm and gentle partnership, working in dish after dish" actually worked beautifully today and it rather soothed my frazzled nerves; I had returned home to a house in total darkness only to discover that the fuse box had blown, well popped actually . . . or something, something electrical anyway (no real idea what really happened except that I had no lighting, the fuse box hasn't been changed since about 1940, and this is why I have an electrician on speed-dial).

So we had lights, my irritated nerves were calmed and there was a lovely simple supper of lightly smoked haddock with chipped potatoes and a little bacon. Perfect again whatever the weather, thanks to Nigel and not forgetting lovely Graham the Fishmonger. (Go check him out at Bingley Market if you can!)

Since this is a Nigel Slater recipe, I am entering into Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen Nigel Slater Dish of the Month challenge, hosted in June by Sue at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate. Janice and Sue are challenging you to cook a Nigel Slater recipe every month and of course, I am only to delighted to take up their challenge!


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Rachel another lovely blog post.I love your stories of Henry.
I love this Nigel recipe and have made it before.But what a coincidence I had some smoked haddock in my freezer too and only yesterday for a friends lunch in the garden I made mini Kedgeree wraps as part of a tapas starter( more of that story later)......

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Aww, thank you Rupert. Henry hasn't been that well recently, so I think I need to celebrate him being back on the mend and recovering his appetite!

I will really look forward to seeing your kedgeree recipe. I trust your food so I am hoping that my prejudices against kedgeree might be shattered!

Janice said...

Henry sounds like a game chap, I think I will eat cream cakes when I get to his age or maybe just live on chocolate.

I love properly smoked haddock and it does make a brilliant ingredient in a tart. Love the sound of this tart - Nigel triumphs again. Thanks for your consistent support of Dish of the Month, we love to read your recipes and amusing blog posts.

Maggie said...

Lucky you having access to a fabulous market. My smoked haddock came from Sainsburys. I am really looking forward to making this dish again.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Thank you, Janice. I love being a part of the Dish of the Month challenge!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Actually Maggie, quite often it's a trip to my local Sainsburys too. It does seem a bit absurd that the best fishmonger (for me) is nearly 300 miles away!

But like you, I loved that dish so much, I will definitely be making it again!

Letterslive said...

Our fishmonger sells Arbroath Smokies. Oh my goodness they are good! Sweet, nutty and gently smoky.Poached in milk and served with bread and butter and an easy salad of tomato and crispy lettuce with a good side slopping of horseradish sauce.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I am so jealous! I haven't had Arbroath Smokies in years! Nothing like a good side slopping of horseradish too :)

Unknown said...

bloody british weather... although I do love smoked haddock any time of the year... beautiful recipe, good old Nigel! x