Haddock with Cheese Sauce

Updated February 23, 2016

With a layer of freshly-cooked spinach under the poached haddock, this classic dish is a colorful one-pot meal

Freezing Information: freeze for up to 1 month

The entire dish, without the breadcrumb topping, can be made a few hours ahead. Bake in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for about 25 minutes, then add the topping and broil until browned.

 Makes4 servings

Preparation Time25 min

Preparation Time - Text25 mins

Cooking Time25 min

Cooking Time - Text25



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course



Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, rich, savory

Type of Dishcasserole


  • 1½ lb (675g) skinless haddock or cod fillet, cut into 4 serving pieces
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup bottled clam juice
  • 9 oz (250g) fresh spinach, well washed, stemmed, and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp butter, plus more for the dish
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar
  • 1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley


  1. Bring the haddock, milk, and clam juice to a boil in a frying pan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 6–8 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.

  2. Meanwhile, put the spinach in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, or until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg. Spread the spinach in a buttered shallow ovenproof dish. Arrange the fish over the spinach, leaving the cooking liquid in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil to keep the fish warm.

  3. Melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and let bubble for 1 minute without browning. Whisk in the poaching liquid and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often. Stir in the Cheddar until melted, then season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the fish and spinach. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and parsley together and sprinkle over the sauce.

  4. Position a broiler rack about 6in (15cm) from the heat and preheat the broiler. Broil about 2 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.

  5. Variation:

  6. Smoked Salmon Mornay: The dish can be made using hot smoked salmon instead, but season carefully as the fish is already salted.



I have not made this yet so I cannot rate it.

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The recipe looks very nice, and I've made it for tonight's supper, but it's still finishing and I haven't actually eaten it yet. But I already have a couple of suggestions for changes: Use at least twice the spinach. I used a pan very slightly smaller than the recommended 9 x 13, and the spinach did not nearly cover the bottom. Do not use all the breadcrumb mix. It was just way too much in proportion to the rest. Do not broil, but bake in oven instead. After broiling I pulled it out to see that the crumbs on top were browned, but those underneath remained dry and sandy and unappetizing. The dish never got hot enough to bubble and moisten the breadcrumbs and they just sort of sit there on top of the dish, not really becoming part of the whole. Also, I think baking would cause the sauce to thicken and evaporate somewhat, bringing all the elements together. As it was, the dish seemed very soupy and swimming in sauce. Another reason to bake instead of broiling is that after about 3 minutes of broiling, except for the top layer of breadcrumbs, the fish and sauce were barely warm. As directed I had covered the dish with foil while I made the sauce, which took about 10 minutes, but it had not retained enough heat. I baked at 350 degrees for about half an hour. I'm about to go pull it out of the oven and see how it tastes. Despite the problems, I anticipate it being really delicious.


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