James Street Cookery School: Salmon en papillote and smoked haddock gratin

Niall McKenna's salmon en papillote. For more from Niall see
Niall McKenna

AT THIS time of year we all tend to eat a lot more fish, simply because it is light and delicious. Sometimes people find it hard to cook fish at home but at our cookery school, I always tell people that it's actually hard to mess it up. It is super quick to cook, plus fish can be an entire meal in itself.

The salmon en papillote is a simple and effective way of cooking the fish – it ensures the salmon is nicely marinated and doesn't dry out – and also a great way to get kids to eat more fish.

The second dish is a great meal for a gloomy day. A gratin is one of the most satisfying dishes and again, is very easy to replicate and perfect at home.


(Serves 2 )

2x 170g pieces of salmon, skin removed

1 bulb fennel, sliced thinly

1 shallot, sliced thinly

2 tsp capers

½ tsp lemon zest

4 slices lemon

olive oil

black pepper


Start by preheating the oven to 180C. Lay out two A4 sheets of greaseproof paper and place on a roasting tray. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place on the middle third of the parchment paper.

Place the fennel, shallot, capers and lemon zest in a bowl and mix, dividing the mix up evenly between the two salmon fillets. Drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. Fold the parchment paper over the fish to make a rectangle and crimp the edges so no steam can escape as the steam will cook the fish. Keep folding over until all the seams are crimped and folded.

Place in the oven and cook for 12 minutes. You can serve the fish in the paper – but be careful when opening it as the steam will be very hot.


(Serves 4

Vegetable oil

2 leeks, trimmed and fine sliced

1 knob of butter

300ml double cream

150ml whole milk

1 pinch nutmeg

1 sprig thyme, leaves only

2 tbsp plain flour

600g potatoes, peeled and thin sliced

350g smoked haddock

salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 180C. Drizzle a little oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and place on a low heat on the hob. Once sizzling add the leeks and season with salt. Cook until soft and remove from pan. Add the butter into the pan, melt and turn off the heat.

In a bowl add in the double cream, milk and nutmeg. You want to make a white sauce so place the flour into the melted butter and put back on to a gentle heat and mix with a little of the cream mix, adding a small amount at a time. Mix thoroughly.

Grease the bottom of a casserole dish with butter and place a layer of the potatoes on top, add on a layer of haddock and cooked leeks and top with the potatoes and repeat. Pour over the cream mix and season with salt and pepper. Pop in oven and cook for 50 minutes. Remove, serve and enjoy.

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