Tartes aux Fishy Bits

I’ve prattled on before about my love of those bags of frozen, mixed fishy bits that typically comprise a nice blend of shrimp, mussels, cuttlefish, squid, scallops, and more that one can get at most grocery stores for a song. They’re not perfect for all things, but rich, cheesy, creamy, wee pies are yet another thing for with they are perfect. You can, of course, use just shrimp or crab or lobster or whatever kind of fishy bits your wee heart desires, but those bags contain a lot of fishy flavour and this is a great use of them and having little tentacles poking out of your fancy pants pies is cute in a sort of Lovecraftian way.

A major and very valid concern I hear from a lot of folks about using those random bags of fishy bits is that it’ll all come out like a big mass of fish-flavoured bubble gum. Yes, all of those bits would typically have drastically different cooking times, temperatures and treatments, but worry not, dear hearts, for I would never steer you wrong. This recipe takes all of that into consideration and you’re left with tender, moist bites of fishies thanks to them getting a little pre-fry plus a nice long soak in creamy, cheesy sauciness.

This recipe will make two 8 or 9 inch pies or a dozen mini pies. I reeeeeally like the mini pies because they pack away and freeze nicely, which is a great option to have when you’re only feeding two people or, perhaps, one person and you’d like to have a bunch of lunches tucked away.

What you need: 

  • Enough pastry for two pies or 12 tartes (approximately 1/3 of a batch of Megan’s pastry)
  • 1 600 g bag of frozen fishy bits
  • 1.5 cups of chopped leek
  • 2 cups of Havarti, grated
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 3 cups of milk or cream (I use half milk and half cream or a can of evaporated milk, then top the rest off with regular, whole milk)
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp herbes de Provence

What you do: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prep your pie/tarte shells, making sure to poke holes in the bottoms.
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat, make a roux with the butter and flour.
  4. Stir in the milk/cream/milk-cream mix, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper, lemon juice and herbes de Provence. Stirring constantly, allow this mixture to come just to a boil, then kill the heat.
  5. Blind bake your pie/tarte shells on the middle rack of the oven for ten minutes.
  6. Remove from shells from oven, set them aside and reduce the oven heat to 375.
  7. Evenly distribute the leeks, then the fishy bits, then the cheese among the pie/tarte shells. They will likely be over-filled and that is ok, they will shrink as they cook.
  8. Carefully and evenly distribute the béchamel among the pies/tartes, taking your time to allow the sauce to seep into air pockets and taking care to not spill over the edges…like I did…as you can see from the picture. THEY’RE RUSTIC, OK? I typically add a little to each one, then start back at the beginning, adding a little more to each one until all of the sauce is used up.
  9. Pop the pies/tartes into the oven, still on the middle rack, and cook for 45 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
  10. Serve with a side salad with a very simple lemon vinaigrette, or some basic steamed greens because these guys are super-rich and you’ll just confuse tongues with anything  more than that.

To freeze, wrap the pies/tartes in parchment paper and place them into a sealable, freezer-friendly bag. I use leftover styrofoam meat/veg trays to stabilize the tartes against the usual freezer bang-around-ery. Reheat them still in their parchment paper on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

 

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