Celebrating British Food & Cooking
Stargazey pie is a traditional Cornish dish so named because the fish heads poke through the pastry crust and appear to be gazing at the stars. But don’t worry, you don’t eat the heads.
According to Andrew Webb at lovefood.com:
“The history of Stargazey Pie would make a great action movie. It is said to have been created in Mousehole, Cornwall (pronounced mow-zul) in honour of a brave fisherman called Tom Bawcock. Legend has it that Tom sailed out into a violent stormy sea to fish when the village was facing starvation. He returned with seven types of fish which were made into a pie and shared among the townsfolk, thus saving them from famine – hurrah! To this day his heroic deeds are celebrated every 23rd December in the town”.
- 30 g butter
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 leek finely chopped
- 3 rashers streaky bacon smoked or unsmoked, finely chopped
- 20 g plain flour
- 3 tbsp dry white wine
- 250 ml fish stock
- 300 ml double cream
- pinch saffron strands
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch fresh parsley small, chopped
- 3 free-range eggs 2 hard-boiled and chopped, 1 beaten to glaze
- 200 g puff pastry
- 6 small mackerel butterflied with the heads on (backbone and tail removed)
- freshly ground black pepper
- boiled new potatoes and green vegetables to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6.
- Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, add the onion, leek and bacon and cook over a low heat until very soft but not browned.
- Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for a minute. Add the white wine and fish stock, stir well to remove any lumps, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 5–10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Add the cream and bring to the boil, stirring until you have a thick sauce. Add the saffron, salt andsome pepper, stir in the parsley and fold in the chopped hard-boiled eggs.
- Roll out the pastry to about 3mm/⅛in thick. Cut out a long, 2cm/¾in wide strip of pastry. Dampen the rim of a deep pie dish with water and press the pastry strip onto the rim. Pour a little of the sauce into the dish and arrange the mackerel on top, with their heads on the edges of the dish. Pour over the remaining sauce.
- Cut out a piece of pastry a little bigger than the size of the dish, then cut slits in the pastry large enough to poke the mackerel heads through. Carefully lower onto the pie dish, then, working around the dish one fish at a time, poke the fish heads through the pastry. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake for 40–45 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with new potatoes and green vegetables.