I get a strange pleasure from leftovers. As much as I embrace thrift cookery, in turning the remains of one meal into the basis of another, or even re-living last night's dinner for lunch the following day, there's something about returning to the remains of a meal, an hour or so after the event, as it is still sitting in it's baking dish, that I can't seem to resist.
Tonight, the second helpings were of a cassoulet of sorts, inspired by a creation I'd come across at the Star Inn at Harome, in North Yorkshire. There, the dish is made with local Whitby Haddock and Wensleydale cheese, however in mine, I used Dorset Blue Vinny - at tart, lip-smacker of a cheese - that I'd picked up on a recent visit to my Mother's. I'm sure Andrew Pern, head chef at the Star would have approved of my regional variation, however. Just as I am sure he would advocate my returning for seconds.
Smoked haddock and Dorset Blue Vinney 'cassoulet'
Serves five with plenty of leftovers
a large leak, washed, halved and thinly sliced
a thin slice of butter
four large un-dyed Haddock fillets, skin on
half a pint vegetable stock
half a pint pale ale
a bay leaf
two 400g tins of harricot beans
200g Dorset Blue Vinney, or other blue cheese
a small pot of pouring cream
two good handfuls bread crumbs
a handful chopped parsley
Pre-heat the grill to a medium setting. Melt the butter in a large frying pan with a dash of olive oil, add the leaks and sweat for five minutes, without colouring. Add the ale and stock. Add the bay leaf, haddock, and a few twists of pepper, and bring to a simmer. Poach the fish for 3 minutes, skin side down, then turn over and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes or so until the flesh is opaque, even in the thickest part of the fillet.
Meanwhile, mix the chopped herbs with the breadcrumbs and one third of the Blue Vinney, torn into small chunks.
Remove the fish and set aside on a warm plate. Add the cream to the ale and stock, and return to the boil. Add the harricot beans, then the remaining Blue Vinney, and stir so it melts evenly. Check the seasoning - it's unlikely to need salt, as the fish and cheese are salty already. Flake the fish, and return to the creamy stock mixture. Spread out in an oven-proof dish, and cover with the breadcrumb and herb mixture, and grill for ten minutes until the top is browned.
Serve with greens, such as savoy cabbage braised in beer.