The Sussex Smokie is a great autumn dish which lends itself to all sorts of variations whilst remaining good old wholesome fodder. It’s also quick to make!
The basic recipe is below but here are some adjustments you can make depending on what’s in your cupboard or how Sussex you want to be.
The recipe includes cheddar cheese. If you’re looking for Sussex cheeses that might work, the Sussex Charmer is perfect but better still, we’ve just heard that Chris (chief cheesemaker) at Balcombe Dairy has been working hard on a new cheese, the Balcombe Breeze. It’s similar to a Tomme de Savoire, so a semi hard Alpine cheese with a creamy flavour and a hint of nuttiness. It will be available in November from Balcombe Stores, Grape and Grain (Haywards Heath) Rushfields (Henfield) and the Cheese Hut (Hove). Chris makes all his cheese on-site at the Balcombe Estate and the cows who provide the milk graze right outside his window. You really don’t get much more “Sussex” than that.
When I made mine I was short of most things, so I used up some Red Leicester and that worked fine too.
Spicing it up
Not for everyone but to add a bit of spice, I sometimes add paprika or even chilli flakes to the mix. But not too much or you drown out the flavour of the haddock and cheese. Some people like to include gently fried leeks or even add a touch of white wine too … and why not!
450 g – smoked haddock
350 ml – milk
50 g – butter
25 g – plain flour
3 tbs – double cream
25 g – cheese of your choice
1 – fresh bay leaf
For the topping (optional)
A handful of breadcrumbs and more cheese.
Poach the haddock in the milk with the bay leaf until cooked – this should take about 5 – 8 mins. Drain the milk and set to one side. Remove the skin from the haddock.
Make a roux by gently heating the butter in a pan and then when melted, very slowly adding the flour, mixing it together to make a smooth paste. Keep the heat low for this. Slowly add the milk, mixing it in to form a smooth sauce. Then add the cream and cheese and if you’re adding chilli – gently does it. Add the fish and stir. You want it nice and flaked.
Add the topping and brown off under the grill. Personally, I find mash potato makes this dish a bit heavy, but some long stem broccoli or good old peas are just perfect. Now pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of something light and enjoy.