At last a ready meal range from Raymond Blanc! He’s the sort of chap you’d think would have got round to this sooner. He has of course got the Maison Blanc stuff in Waitrose and allowed his face to be stuck on a box of muesli and alongside his flagship Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons he now runs an ever expanding portfolio of Brasserie Blancs.
Once a big name chef opens up a chain restaurant, a ready meal range is never far away. As far as I can tell the range is just sold through Ocado, and is made up exclusively of fish dishes; there’s the fish pie, a haddock en croute, a couple of risottos and a gratin of scallops. I went for the fish pie as risottos are boring, my girlfriend is allergic to scallops and the haddock didn’t seem quite as interesting to write about. It turns out it was a stupid choice as the fish pie has scallops in it and so my girlfriend couldn’t eat any anyway.
The packaging is pretty good and tells us the pie was “Personally developed by Raymond Blanc” which is what you’d expect really from a Raymond Blanc Luxury Seafood Pie, but it’s good to remove any ambiguity. It is described as having “Succulent Scottish salmon, scallops, smoked haddock and king prawns in a rich shellfish bisque. Topped with British mashed potato and a Gruyere and chive crumb” which sounds pretty good and everything you’d want from a fish pie. The fish is also sustainably sourced so a gold star there too.
The pie takes about 45 mins in the oven and comes out scorching hot. There is a generous quantity of fish and every forkful yields a chunk, you don’t need to dig about hoping you’ll find some, I guess that is what comes with the word “luxury”. The British mashed potato was OK but it wasn’t too rich, it could have done with extra butter – perhaps they should have used French mashed potato instead. I took a look at the ingredients and it was 94% mashed potato and the rest was butter, milk and salt – those kind of ratios are never going to work – Raymond of all people should know that. The shellfish bisque was average, it needed more seasoning and a punchier flavour, the absence of saffron really didn’t help things along. But all that being said it was a tasty, hearty dish and the best fish pie I’ve ever had off a supermarket shelf. Quite often they have a thin, runny, unidentifiable white sauce that looks like thick milk, two hard prawns and some chunks of white protein that you couldn’t be sure was fish at all. Raymond’s version is a vast improvement on all of that even if it could pack a bit more punch in the flavour department.
Raymond Blanc Luxury Seafood Pie 720g £6.99