Can you remember the days before the internet? When recipes came in magazines and cookery books or from friends? When there was no ‘forward slash’, ‘point com’ or ‘punto com’ to be spelled out? I can and I have fond memories (and lots of files) to prove it. This is a recipe from those pre-www days, from a Sainsbury’s Magazine supplement, which, in this world of endless information, I can date between 1995-2000 because it has 0171 telephone numbers printed on the back.
Until tonight I had only made it once, with my Dad and Paul waiting like eager guinea-pigs to try what was, in the rather unsophisticated land of Papworth Everard, a somewhat outlandish recipe. Smoked fish in a dauphinoise? With horseradish? But it was a Nigel Slater concoction and so far, even that early in his career, I’d learnt that winter Slater recipes had a tendency to be the culinary equivalents of nice hot baths: comforting, warm and prone to send you to sleep. Oh and simple too; barely any shopping or faffing about. This isn’t one for the days when you’re feeling like something light and healthy; go back to the Thai curry for that! No, this is for eating whilst wrapped in a blanket watching some repeats of old favourites on the telly. Gorgeous.
Smoked mackerel dauphinoise (adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe in Sainsbury’s Magazine)
For two-three portions (depending on how greedy you are feeling) you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
maincrop potatoes, 450g (about 3 medium-large ones)
whole milk, 200ml
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
smoked mackerel fillet, 225g (again, about three medium ones)
double cream, 200ml (plus a little extra to cover if needed)
horseradish or horseradish cream, 1 tablespoon (optional; it’s good with or without it)
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan-assisted/gas 5.
2. Lightly butter a shallow, ovenproof baking dish.
3. Peel and slice the potatoes into thin pieces then put in the dish with the bay leaf.
4. If necessary remove the mackerel skin then break into pieces over the top of the potatoes.
5. Mix the cream, milk and horseradish (if using) together, season then tip over the potatoes. The potatoes and fish should, ideally, be covered in liquid so add a little more cream/milk if necessary.
6. Bake for abut 1 hour until the potatoes are cooked through (stick a fork in to test them) and the sauce is bubbling. You could have a bath whilst it’s cooking…