This recipe, for me, showcases all that is the best of Irish food. Our fresh fish, our meat, our dairy, our herbs and so on.
Whilst it is a take on a classical cassoulet, it brings to the fore all that is great about our ingredients and produce.
For the Hake:
- 1 x 500g fillet of fresh Hake - skin on & pin boned
- Fine sea salt for salting
- Oil for frying
- Sprig of thyme
- Knob of butter
- Wedge of lemon
For the Ham Hock, Leeks & Beans:
- 1 ham hock bone in
- 500ml dry cider
- 500ml water
- 1 bay leaf, broken
- Sprig of thyme
- 1 x 400g tin cooked haricot or canellini beans
- 50ml olive oil
- 2 leeks, finely sliced
- 200g onion, small dice
- 2 stick celery, medium dice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 150 mls of whipping cream
- ½ lemon, juice of
- 20g flat parsley chopped
- 20g chives, chopped
- 20g tarragon, chopped
For the Hake:
- Take the hake fillet and lightly dust in fine sea salt on the flesh side only. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for one hour. Doing this helps the hake firm up and will be less likely to break up when cooked.
- Remove the hake from the fridge and wash thoroughly to remove the salt. Dry well and cut into 4 even portions. Preheat your oven to 180oC.
- Place a pan over a medium to high heat and place down a sheet of greaseproof paper. Add a drizzle of oil. Once the oil is hot add the hake and cook, skin side down for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Transfer to the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until you have reached your preferred cooking temp.
- Remove from the oven and on a low heat add a knob of unsalted butter and baste for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
For the Ham Hock, leeks and beans:
- Soak the ham hocks in cold water overnight to try to remove some of the salt. Remove, rinse and pat dry.
- In a casserole dish with a tightly fitting lid put the ham hock, cider, water, thyme and bay leaf.
- Bring to the boil, put the lid on and allow to simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. You may need to keep topping up the liquid in the pot as the hock is cooking.
- Take the hock out and allow to cool. Keep the cooking liquor. Then pull the meat off the bone leaving it in nice large chunks, set aside and discard the bone.
- In a large pot sweat the leeks, onions, celery and garlic in the oil until soft but not coloured. Then add 200mls the cooked haricot beans and the ham hock cooking liquor. (Make sure you check that the cooking liquid is not too salty -if it is, use chicken stock instead).
- Bring the whole thing to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 mins. Add the ham hock chunks and the cream and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes in order to reduce and thicken. Add the lemon juice, mustard and the chopped herbs.
- Check the seasoning and adjust, add more lemon juice if necessary and a knob of butter.
- Place a large ladle full of the mix in the centre of your serving dish or serve it on the side if you wish. Place the roast hake on top and garnish with some more chopped herbs.