Trout & Pernod Pie Recipe

"Taken from The Good Table by Valentine Warner published by Mitchell Beazley"

Trout & Pernod Pie - Serves 6

A little olive oil
1 whole large trout (about 1kg), or 2 whole small trout (about500g each), gutted and degilled

Rough puff pastry
225g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
a good pinch of fine sea salt
185g butter, chilled, cut roughly into 2cm dice
125ml cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 free-range egg, beaten

50g butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 slender celery sticks, trimmed and finely sliced
3 tablespoons Pernod
40g plain flour
400ml whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons double cream
leaves from 2 sprigs of tarragon, finely chopped
a handful of curly-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons baby capers, well rinsed
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
ground white pepper

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Drop in the butter and toss around with a large metal spoon until it is lightly coated in the flour.
Mix the water and lemon juice together and pour into the bowl.
Use a table knife to cut across the mix, chopping the butter into the flour, until the dough comes together. When it forms a loose lump, tip it on to a board and quickly shape it into a fat slab with your hand.
Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface to a rectangle around 40cm × 20cm. Fold one-third of the pastry into the middle, then fold the other end over that. Press the edges together firmly with the pin, then rotate the pastry a quarter turn.

Roll into the same size of rectangle and start the process again. You are basically building up the layers that make this rough puff fluff. Continue five more times: rolling into a rectangle, folding, pressing and turning once more. Don’t worry too much if a chunk of butter occasionally makes its way through in the early stages. Just keep the board and pin very well floured to prevent the pastry from sticking.

Wrap the slab in clingfilm and chill for 1–2 hours (or overnight). If it is very firm when you come to use it,  allow the pastry to warm through for a few minutes before rolling.

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/Gas 7.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized, nonstick saucepan over a low heat. In it gently fry the onion and celery for a couple of minutes before adding the Pernod.

Continue cooking the vegetables for 8–10 minutes until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. The Pernod should evaporate, leaving only the butter and vegetables. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook for a minute before gradually adding the milk, while stirring constantly with a whisk (this will help eradicate any unwanted lumps as you go). When all the milk has been added, stir in the mustard. Cook the sauce gently for 10 minutes or so, stirring continually, until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, tarragon, parsley and capers.

Season. (It will need a little more salt than you may expect to bring out the flavours.) Cover the surface of the sauce with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes.

If it seems thick, do not worry, as when heated in the pie it will loosen as it absorbs the trout juices.

Line a small baking tin with a large sheet of foil and brush it with a little oil.

Put the cleaned trout into the tin, head to tail if using two, and cover with a second piece of oiled foil. Scrunch the edges together to form a large, flat parcel. Bake the trout for 15 minutes, then leave to stand without opening for 15–20 minutes. It needs to be barely cooked, as it will enter the oven again under the pastry. Turn the oven down to 180°C fan/200°C/Gas 6.

Photograph ©Jonathan Lovekin.