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Smoked Haddock, leek and butterbean bake

By colm
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Chunky flakes of haddock encased in a smooth, smoky sauce. Loaded with rustic leeks and butter beans, topped with golden, crunchy parmesan.

smoked haddock, leek and butterbean bake

I Love good Friday. It’s one of two days during the year that I know for sure I won’t be working. The other been Christmas day. Bars, restaurants and cafe’s the length and breadth of the country are forced to close due to the fact they serve alcohol. This gives hard-working restaurant chefs the chance to relax and put their feet up.

I have been cooking today though. Traditionally you’re supposed to eat fish on Good Friday. I’m not sure where this tradition came from. I bet when christ was nailed to the cross didn’t turn around to the disciples and say, listen lads no eating fish on Good Fridays. It’s definitely a man-made tradition…maybe the first pope was in the fish business. Anyway, being a good catholic it’s a tradition I follow and a good excuse to eat some fish.

This recipe is like a fishy version of mac and cheese. In fact, if haven’t got any butter beans you could use pasta instead. Penne or something similar should work just as well. The key to this is poaching your haddock in the milk which infuses it with an aromatic smokey flavour. Then you use the milk to make the sauce. The same as if you were cooking a fish pie.

smoked haddock poached in milk

To spare yourself a bit of washing up, heat the milk in the microwave till it’s nearly at boiling point. Then pour it over the haddock and cover with cling film. It will happily cook and infuse while you get on with the rest of the dish. When I was preparing the leeks for this dish I was reminded that they do have a season, and we must be close to the end of it due to the hard stalky bit I found in the middle. They are very much a winter vegetable and are at their best in January / February. So discard this hard bit before you chop them up…nice and chunky as they have a habit of disappearing into the sauce. I like to call leeks and spinach the disappearing vegetables. They like to disintegrate to nothing when you cook them.

smoked haddock bake

This recipe makes six good portions with some leftover for seconds…whack a salad together and you’re good to go. Only wish I bought some beer yesterday to wash it down with…..

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smoked haddock, leek and butter bean bake

Smoked Haddock, leek and butterbean bake

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 good portions 1x


  • 600ml (1.2 pints) milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500g (17.5oz) smoked haddock
  • 1 large leek
  • 400g (14oz) butter beans
  • 25g (1oz) butter
  • 25g (1oz) flour
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g (3.5oz) grated parmesan cheese
  • 40g (1.5oz) breadcrumbs


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c / 350f.
  2. Add the bayleaf to the milk and bring it to the boil. Pour the milk over the haddock and cover it with cling film, then leave it to cook and infuse.
  3. Chop the leeks into large chunks and give them a good wash. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the leeks and cook them for 2 minutes. Drain them off and run under cold water to cool them down.
  4. Open the butter beans, drain and rinse them off with some water, and add them to the leeks.
  5. Remove the haddock from the milk, flake up the flesh and add it to the leek and butter bean mix.
  6. Melt the butter and add in the flour. Mix together to form a roux. Slowly add the milk from the haddock, stirring constantly until its all been incorporated into the sauce.
  7. Bring the sauce to the boil, whisking vigorously to make sure theres no lumps.
  8. Once your sauce has thickened add the lemon juice and half the cheese. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper.
  9. Mix the sauce with the leek,haddock and butter beans.
  10. Pour the mix into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake @ 180c (350f) for 40 minutes till bubbling and golden brown on top.


Alternative fish – smoked cod, smoked coley

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