I’ve been cooking quite a lot recently, but just really repeating recipes I know by heart – albeit with a few variations. I made a fish pie (with coley – super cheap) but replaced the mashed potato with breadcrumbs mixed with grated cheese and the oil from a tin of anchovies (never waste the oil – masses of flavour there). The actual anchovies went into the fish mix (make a white, bechamel-type sauce, then add partially-defrosted frozen coley, cubed, a few handfuls of frozen peas, the grated zest of a lemon [not the juice! the point of a fish pie is that it’s creamy, not tart], chopped dill, black pepper and maybe a small tin of sliced mushrooms, drained, to bulk it out.
The breadcrumbs are the clever, saving-money bit.
Now, bread isn’t expensive – but how about free? Whenever I get a Middle Eastern/Lebanese takeaway they always seem to add, for free, flatbreads. I never want to eat them at the time so I always whizz them in the blender into breadcrumbs and then freeze till required. Otherwise I’d just throw them away, and I hate waste! They make such a lovely, savoury, crumbly-crispy topping for this creamy fish pie, or any other liquidy stew/casserole that needs a bit of carbs/bulk towards the end of cooking. The flavour with a mature cheese is gorgeous too. My kids lapped it up, although usually they complain when it’s fish pie. Grated melted cheese peps everything up, doesn’t it?
This breadcrumb trick came into play with today’s chorizo sausage stew too. the basic recipe was 6 chopped, fat (raw) cooking chorizo sausages, a tin of chopped tomatoes (plus another tin of hot water sluicing out the tin), 200g dried yellow split peas (but Puy, green or red lentils would have been fine, or any other pulse probably). I put all this, plus a chopped onion, into my slow cooker for 8 hours (all day) then tested for flavour. SO much smokey, paprika-ey flavour comes out of the sausages that I wasn’t sure it’d need any other seasoning. I added the breadcrumbs/cheese mixture then browned under the grill for 5 minutes, and finally sprinkled over some chopped parsley. Yum. All it needed was a dollop of creme fraiche and I also used up a ripe avocado, sliced, on top.