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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Colin Skink (haddock, potato, and cauliflower stew)

At least here in New England, its getting cold out there. The wind is howling, and the heavy coats are being taken down. We've still got a month or two before we can't leave the house, but when you do you return red-faced and shivering. This, then, is the time for hot, hearty food, when things that seem unimaginably rich as even a side dish in summer are precisely what your brain calls out for. This is my contribution- it's rich, but not overpowering (thanks largely to the caulifower) and has a very nuanced flavor for such a carb heavy dish. The final texture should be somewhere between mashed potatoes and a thick stew.

I used this recipe as a starting point, but I've heavily modified it,  to add more flavor and better texture, and because as constituted that one has way too much liquid. The name is a silly nod to Cullen Skink, the Scottish smoked haddock and potato soup. Sadly you can't get smoked haddock in this country, so the smoky flavor instead comes from smoked Gouda. You'll want something green and vibrant to balance it- we had an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette (just lemon juice, olive oil, mustard powder, and a little sugar whisked together), which wound up being quite nice. 

Colin Skink
Serves 6

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
Half a head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1.5 pounds haddock filets, skinned and deboned if possible. 
Six cloves garlic, peeled 
1.5 cups milk
2 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, grated 
1/2 ounce  Parmesan, grated
1/2 ounce bleu cheese, grated 
1 cup creme fraiche 
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley and/or chives 
2 bay leaves
Curry powder
Pepper flakes
Mustard powder
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. In a  bowl, sprinkle cauliflower and 3 of the garlic cloves with olive oil and season well with paprika, curry powder, pepper flakes, thyme, pepper and salt. Transfer to baking sheet and roast in oven 20-25 mins until tender. If they fail to soften enough, you can microwave them for 3 minutes after roasting. Do not turn off the oven when they are done. 
3. Boil potatoes until tender and drain well.
4. Simultaneously, in a large saucepan cover the haddock filets with the milk, and add the green onions, bay leaves, the remaining 3 garlic cloves quartered, and a couple good shakes each of nutmeg, mustard powder, and cumin. Bring to a boil covered over medium heat, then reduce to low and cook until fish flakes easily. 
5. Remove the fish and set aside. Pour the milk through a mesh strainer into a measuring cup. Discard the bay leaves, reserve the garlic and green onions. 
6. In a large bowl or the pot from the potatoes, combine the potatoes, cauliflower/ roasted garlic, creme fraiche, Gouda, bleu cheese, half the Parmesan, the garlic and green onions from the milk, and 1/2 cup of the milk (discard the rest). Mash well, then add the flaked haddock and stir to combine.
7. Transfer the entire mix to a lightly oiled baking vessel (shallower is likely better) and top with the remaining Parmesan. Increase oven heat to 450 and bake for an initial 20 minutes. If mixture is still soupy, cook for another 10. 
8. Turn off oven and let sit in the oven for another 5 minutes. If you're having bread with this, put it in the oven to warm at this point. Remove, top with parsley and/or chives, and serve. 

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