Fish and Lobster Pie
Living on the coast in New England, with access to dock-fresh fish, is a constant inspiration to me in the kitchen, and a constant challenge. I almost always go into the fish market with no specific target in mind, preferring to see once I get there what's available, what looks good, what triggers an idea, what simply has to come home with me. Quite often the result is a bag of several different fish and a mind humming with thoughts of bouillabaisse, seafood stew, a nice chowder or pasta sauce, or some other way to use a mixed lot of fruits of the sea.
Thus was born my version of Fish and Lobster Pie, first made in 2000. It differs from most recipes for seafood pie, which are usually a mixture of fish and cheese baked in a pie shell, in that it's an adaptation of quiche, based on a savory egg and cream custard. This gives it a lighter feel than the cheese and fish pies (though no one would claim it's a diet preparation). The result is deeply flavorful and chock full of fresh fish and shellfish. Served with a salad, some French bread and a crisp sauvignon blanc, it makes a pleasant and casual supper for two, or four, at any time of year.
Fish and Lobster Pie
Makes 6 tartlets, 4" diameter
6 partially baked tartlet shells (recipe follows)
3 T flour
1 lb scallops, washed, cut 1/4 inch thick
6 oz cooked lobster or crab, cut into 3/4" pieces (reserve 4 claw pieces for decoration)
8 oz white fish, cut in 1" pieces
1/2 C minced onion
2 T minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C heavy cream
1 T fresh oregano, minced
1/2 bay leaf
2/3 cup white wine
3 oz grated Parmeggiano Reggiano
2 T butter cut in small pieces
Sauté onions and shallots and 2/3 of the garlic slowly in butter and oil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside.
Toss scallops and fish in the flour and sauté in hot butter and oil about two minutes, stirring. Add the wine, oregano and bay leaf and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Allow to cool.
Beat the eggs with the cream until well combined, add the fish/scallop mixture, the lobster, the remaining garlic, the nutmeg and the onion mixture. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and hot sauce. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tart shells, being careful to distribute the seafood equally into the four shells.
Scatter the cheese over the tarts, dot with butter and decorate with lobster claw meat. Bake 20-30 min in a preheated 400º oven, until puffed and beginning to brown and a tester comes out clean. If necessary, run under a broiler for a minute or two to brown the top.
Allow to rest 5 minutes or so before removing the tarts from the forms.
Pie Crust - Partially Cooked ("Blind Baked")
for a single crust pie or six 4" tartlet pans
3 C sifted all purpose flour
1-1/2 sticks cold butter
1/3 C vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C + 2 T ice water
Place the flour, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process briefly, until mixture looks like coarse corn meal. Add the ice water and pulse processor a few times until dough begins to clump. Do not overprocess. Scrape dough onto a board put in a plastic food storage bag. Working through the bag, quickly press the dough into a ball. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour. (May be frozen at this point for future use.) Roll the ball out to about 1/8" thick. Butter the pie plate or tart pans and line with the dough.
Butter pieces of aluminum foil and line the crust in the tart pans with them, buttered side down. Fill the foil with dried beans or rice to a depth of about an inch -- this will keep the crust from puffing when it is baked empty. Bake for about 10 minutes in a preheated 400º oven. Crust should just start to brown. Allow to cool and then remove and discard the aluminum foil after returning the beans or rice to their container. Leave the tart pan rings in place.
The crust can be made up to four hours before the dish is assembled and served.