Recipe by James Donnelly, Donnelly’s Restaurant
This is a beautiful spring into early summer recipe, using Jersey Royals, the king of potatoes, and one of the UK’s finest, most underrated fish, mackerel. Both are in peak season and complement each other so well. At the restaurant this is our favourite time of year for amazing ingredients.
750g washed Jersey Royals
1 bunch watercress or handful rocket
4-6 British mackerel fillets (ask your wonderful fishmonger to fillet and pin bone the fish for you if you don’t fancy the challenge!)
1 small pot natural/ Greek yoghurt
Splash of gin or juniper berries (if you don’t want alcohol, or both if you are a serious juniper lover)
1 bunch dill
2 ripe, quality tomatoes (we get ours from the Isle of Wight)
Cold pressed rapeseed oil (we use this instead of extra virgin olive oil to keep with British ingredients)
English apple balsamic (again you can substitute for normal balsamic or a sherry vinegar)
400ml white wine or cider vinegar
Handful of sugar
Cloves/ juniper/ bay/ peppercorns/ 1 small onion or shallot for pickle liquor
Pickled Mackerel (preferably 1 day before, but a few hours before serving is fine)
Lay the mackerel out on some kitchen paper and sprinkle a generous pinch of sea salt on both sides. Leave in the fridge for an hour or two to draw some moisture out and start curing the meat.
While it is salting, bring the white vinegar, thinly sliced white onion, sugar and spices to a simmer until the sugar has dissolved (the liquor should have a bit of sweetness against the sharpness, this can be made sweeter according to your taste).
Place the mackerel in a container, pat dry and remove any excess salt, then pour your warm (not too hot) pickle liquor over the mackerel. Leave for a few hours or up to 3 days submerged in vinegar.
To serve, grill for few minutes to blister skin and warm through.
Bring a handful of washed potatoes to simmer in water with a pinch of salt and the dill stalks, until a knife goes through them with no pressure. Drain and leave to one side to cool. I like these potatoes quartered, with a pinch of salt and pepper at room temperature.
If you want to show off, thinly slice some Jersey Royals and rinse them under cold water until the water runs clear and all the starch is washed out. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and fry until crispy (be careful of the very hot oil!), carefully remove from the pan and leave to cool on some kitchen paper.
As we use the best tomatoes we can find at the restaurant (in my humble opinion) we only add a pinch of salt and pepper (it’s optional to rub some garlic and rosemary or thyme in too). Cook for 30 minutes at 130C to intensify the flavour, set aside and use hot straight out of the oven or at room temperature on a beautiful summer’s day.
Gin and Horseradish yoghurt
This is all to your taste! I generally use a splash of gin, half a teaspoon of smashed juniper berries, a pinch of salt and zest of a lemon, and a heaped teaspoon grated horseradish, mix well and leave in the fridge to firm up until serving.
In a mixing bowl place your quartered Jersey Royals, a handful of watercress or rocket leaves for a peppery note (or some little gem for a lighter salad), some picked dill leaves, a slug of rapeseed oil and toss gently to avoid bruising the leaves.
Place the mackerel on your plate (use some of the pickled onions if you like, they will be delicious) with your salad to the side, crispy Jerseys scattered onto the salad, and roast tomato. Add a spoonful of yoghurt, drizzle over some oil and some balsamic and enjoy!