Pretty quick and easy to prepare and very satisfying on a cold day: Poached smoked Haddock with a poached egg, served on a bed of green lentil ragout.
For the lentil ragout, finely dice a medium-sized onion, half a fennel bulb, 2 cloves of garlic and one medium sized carrot. Melt a walnut-sized piece of butter and an equivalent amount of olive oil in a pan, then fry the diced vegetables until they begin to caramelise. Add one cup of green (“french”) lentils, two cups of cold water and one chicken stock cube.
(Really, a stock cube. It helps cook the lentils much faster than you’d think.)
Add a twig of thyme or lovage, cover and let simmer very gently. This takes about 30 minutes from now.
Meanwhile, clean the undied smoked haddock but leave the skin on, cutting portions of about 220 g per person. Heat a pint of milk in a pan, add three bay leaves and half a dozen of crushed juniper berries. Check the temperature; you want the milk hot but well below the boiling point. Gently add the fish, skin side down, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. When it is boiling, add a generous splash of vinegar and let the temperature drop to just below the boiling point. Crack one egg per portion into a cup, then gently drop the egg into the hot water. Let them float for 5 minutes.
Sample the lentils ragout. Season to taste with salt, mustard, and balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze.
Plate a good portion of the lentils ragout, topped with the fish, skin now removed, and a poached egg on top. Chilly oil, pumpkin oil or more balsamic vinegar make for a decorative splash.
Serve with fresh bread and everybody will love you.