It’s not often that you find a cheap meal that is simple to make and results in a posh-nosh filled plate.
My lovely friend Anna mentioned the combination of mackerel, bacon and sage when she was visiting us from the UK last week. I found this recipe and used it as a template for my frugal feast this evening.
I got some lovely smoked pancetta in Little Italy in Smithfield, at just €1.14 for six lovely slices and I got one mackerel, cut into four fillets, in Kish Fish for €1.71. I added two medium spuds and a handful of salad leaves, which meant dinner for two cost under a fiver. Eat your heart out, Ainsley Harriot!
What you need for Baked Pancetta and Sage Mackerel with Sage and Crispy Spuds for 2
2 medium to large potatoes
2 mackerel, cut into 4 fillets and pin poned by your fishmonger (remember that mackerel is usually sold already halved so you just need two of those mackerel pieces and you can halve them again at home)
10 fresh sage leaves (I got a big bag of fresh sage leaves in Fallon & Byrne)
4 slices of pancetta or streaky bacon
Salt and Pepper
Mustard or tartare sauce, to serve
Handful of fresh green leaves, to serve
2 lemon wedges, to serve
Start by pre-heating your oven to 220C/fan 200C/Gas Mark 7.
Put a saucepan of boiling water over a high heat and add a teaspoon of salt. Peel and wash your potatoes. Then slice them into rounds about 1 to 2 cm thick, like these. Add them to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, take your four mackerel fillets and press 2 sage leaves onto the fleshy side of each, until you’ve used 8 sage leaves. You need the other 2 for the potatoes. Wrap each fillet with one slice of pancetta.
Transfer the whole lot to a baking dish. Season with a little pepper. (I didn’t use any salt as I felt the pancetta would add enough saltiness. Then again, I’m never heavy handed with salt so by all means add a pinch if it makes you happy.)
Put the mackerel onto the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain your potatoes once they’ve had 5 minutes. Now put a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add a big dollop of butter, about a tablespoons worth. When the butter is hot but not bubbling, add your drained potatoes, spreading them evenly so they’re not over-lapping. Finely chop the remaining 2 sage leaves and add to the pan. Sprinkle a good bit of salt over everything and fry the lot over a medium high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, while the fish is cooking. This will all result in stupendously crispy and indulgent spuds.
Serve with some lovely mustard or even some tartare sauce, a slice of lemon and a handful of fresh green salad. Lovely!
Really loving this track from Ryan Gosling’s new flick Drive, which I saw last night. It’s a weird and cool movie. Check it out. If only for the amazing chemistry between Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling. I hope they have babies together in real life.