Smelts with Mushrooms and Cheese

This unusual dish, a delightful combination of smelts, wine, mushrooms and cheese, makes a tasty lunch or supper served with boiled new potatoes and buttered shredded cabbage.

2 oz. plus

1 teaspoon butter

8 shallots, sliced

2 fl. oz. white wine

8 oz. button mushrooms, wiped clean, 6 oz. sliced and the remainder left whole

2 lb. smelts, cleaned and gutted

1 oz. fresh breadcrumbs

2 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375 °F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C). With the teaspoon of butter, grease a shallow baking dish. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the shallots and wine to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized frying-pan, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the sliced and whole mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and place the shallots and wine in the baking dish. Arrange the fish on top of the shallots. With a slotted spoon, remove some of the whole mushrooms from the pan and place one on top of each fish.

Remove the sliced mushrooms from the pan and arrange them and the remaining whole mushrooms around the fish. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and cheese. Pour over the mushroom cooking juices.

Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and become golden brown and the fish flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately, straight from the dish.