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Conger Eel Pie

ingredients

serves 6
675-900 g (1 1/2 - 2 lb) conger eel
1 1/4 cup (1/2 pint) 300 ml fish stock
1 cup (8 fl oz) 250 ml red wine
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 stick (2 oz) 50 g butter
1/3 cup (40 g) plain flour (All purpose)

for the topping

675g (1 1/2 lb )potatoes, peeled and boiled
2 tablespoons milk
3 eggs, separated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
50 g (2oz) Cheddar cheese, grated
cayenne

method

1. Cut the conger eel into steaks, or ask your fishmonger to do this for you.

2. Poach them in the stock and wine until tender.

3. Remove the steaks with a slotted spoon and, while the stock continues to simmer and reduce, peel off the skin of the eel and remove the bones to leave chunks of flesh.

4. Soften the onions and garlic in a little oil then transfer to a deep pie or souffle dish.

5. Arrange the eel on top of this. The stock can be further thickened, if you like, with beurre manie (the flour kneaded into the butter). Drop in small knobs of beurre manie one at a time, stirring until the sauce thickens. Check the seasoning and pour the sauce over the fish and onions.

6. To make the topping, mash the potatoes very thoroughly until they are absolutely smooth. Add the milk and egg yolks, season with a pinch each of salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the chopped parsley. Beat thoroughly. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the potatoes.

7. Spoon the potato mixture over the pie, sprinkle with the grated cheese and a dusting of cayenne and bake in a moderately hot oven 200°c (400°f) gas 6 for 20 minutes.

8. Serve with green vegetables in season.

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