I had some mackerel fillets leftover in the fridge today so I decided to make some Irish potato farls and a homemade coleslaw to go with them for dinner. Nigel Slater recently popularised the smoked mackerel/coleslaw combination but I feel it’s as good as mine because when I was a kid my dad and me used to eat it for lunch almost every Saturday. We always ate shop-bought ‘slaw, which isn’t half as healthy or flavoursome the homemade stuff. As long as you aren’t a puritan who demands a homemade mayonnaise dressing, coleslaw is really cheap and easy to make and a great way to use up leftover winter veg.
Smoked mackerel, coleslaw, potato farls and a poached egg
For the farls
600g floury potatoes – I think Maris Piper make the best mash
Generous knob of butter
Splash of milk
Salt and pepper
2 cups plain flour (or as much as you need to obtain a smooth, not sticky dough)
For the ‘slaw
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 small turnips (optional), peeled and grated
3 shallots (or half an onion), very finely sliced or grated
Half a green cabbage heart, very finely sliced
Juice of half a lemon
Generous grinding of black pepper
3 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
4 smoked mackerel fillets, skins removed
2 poached eggs
To make the potato farls, peel, cube and boil your potatoes until very soft and ready to mash.
Drain the potatoes well and mash without adding any liquid, then add a knob of butter and a dash of milk or cream at the end to make a really smooth but still fairly stiff mash.
Transfer the mash to a large bowl and sift the flour in, about 2 tbsp at a time. Each time you add some flour, mix it in with your hand using a gentle kneading action.
Keep adding the flour and gathering it into the dough from the sides of the bowl until you have a soft, not a sticky dough.
Flour your worktop well and roll the dough out to about 1cm thick. Cut the rolled dough into 8 or 9 squares and dust with more flour until ready to cook.
To cook the farls, heat a dry frying pan over a medium to high heat and place them gently in the hot pan. When the farls have coloured on both sides and, with luck, puffed up slightly, they are ready to serve. This should take 2-3 minutes on each side.
To make the coleslaw, very finely slice or grate all of the vegetables and mix well in a large bowl with the mayonnaise, lemon juice and black pepper.
To serve, warm the mackerel slightly. I use the Rayburn warming oven, but alternatively, I would set a conventional oven to 140C and warm the mackerel with the plates for ten minutes or so.
Poach your eggs. To poach eggs, I recommend using a shallow frying pan filled with 1-2″ of water and a capful of white wine vinegar. Crack the eggs in gently just before the water gets to boiling point and let them sit there for 3 minutes or so, never letting the water boil. If the yolks sit proud of the water, gently spoon water over them to cook the white. When ready, lift out and test by shaking and watching the wobble; if the eggs still look very fragile they need a little longer, return them to the water but turn the heat off, and leave for 30 secs or so.
Arrange the farls, fillets, salad and poached eggs as you prefer and eat promptly!
Photos taken today at Spring Barn Farm, where I had a delicious slice of homemade carrot cake and a good play with my daughter and friends.
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