This creamy smoked mackerel pâté, topped with clarified butter, makes a perfect starter before your big Christmas dinner or can be served with bread and salad as a light lunch on other days. Cheap to make, it has a million-dollar taste. If you prefer a coarser pâté, simply mix the onion juice, cheese, horseradish, lemon zest and juice in a bowl until smooth, then add the flaked mackerel and mash with a fork until it reaches a consistency you like. You need 6 to 8 x 125ml ramekin dishes.
300g smoked mackerel fillets, skinned
½ small onion
200g full-fat soft cheese
2 tbsp creamed horseradish sauce
finely grated zest and juice of
½ unwaxed lemon
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
warm crusty granary bread or melba toast
6–8 small bay leaves
½ tbsp mixed dried peppercorns, miniature capers or pickled green peppercorns
Flake the mackerel into a food processor. Peel the onion and grate it coarsely on to a plate. Take the grated onion in one hand and squeeze it hard over the mackerel to release the juice – this will add flavour to the pâté. Discard the onion flesh.
Add the soft cheese, horseradish sauce, lemon zest and juice to the mackerel and season well with a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Blitz all the ingredients together until smooth. Check the seasoning and add a little more lemon juice if needed. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and smooth the tops with the back of a teaspoon.
To make the clarified butter topping, melt the butter in a small pan over a very low heat. Remove from the heat, pour the butter into a jug and spoon off any foam that rises to the surface. Leave to stand for a few minutes to allow the milk solids to sink to the bottom of the jug.
When the butter is looking clear, pour a tablespoon over the pâté in each ramekin. Place a bay leaf and a few peppercorns on top, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to set. Best eaten within 3 days.
To serve, take the ramekins out of the fridge about 20 minutes before eating. Put them on small plates with warm bread or melba toast and serve while the bread remains hot enough to melt the clarified butter. There is no need to serve extra butter at the table.