Despite the cider, this is a comforting, simple fish supper reminiscent of the nursery food of yesteryear. This supper seemed perfect for an cold January evening when the nights are still long. I used 4.5% alcohol cider and you can decrease the amount of cider, if you like and increase the stock. Serve with rice and green vegetables of your choice. I adapted this recipe from the one in A Year Full of Recipes (Parragon Books, 2014) fighting shy of monkfish and sorrel.
2 tsp butter
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 shallotts, finely chopped
300 ml fish or vegetable stock
125ml cry cider
250g new potatoes
1 bay leaf
4 tbs plain flour
200 ml milk
100 ml single cream
salt and white pepper
parsley to garnish
1) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the celery and the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they start to soften,
2) Stir in the stock, potatoes and bay leaf with a large pinch of salt (unless the stock is salty) and return to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
3) Put the flour in a small bowl and very slowly whisk in a few tablespoons of the milk to make a thick paste. Stir in a little more milk to make a smooth liquid.
4) Adjust the heat so the stew bubbles gently. Stir in the flour mixture and cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Add the remaining milk and the cream. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
5) Continue cooking for 3 minutes until the cod stiffens. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning adding plenty of white pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve with white rice and green vegetables of your choice.