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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sole Series - Part Three, Sole Meuniere

Oh sole mio! Sole is so simple--yet so frustrating! It certainly should be as easy as each recipe I look at claims it to be. Previously, I'd dallied with the fish for guests, the results sometimes good, sometimes not.

Here, I was making dinner solely for Baby and me:

Ina Garten's "Easy Sole Meuniere" recipe is simple in theory, but there are a few unexplained things that I have to still thoroughly determine, regarding the proper saute pan, level of heat to cook the fish (both resulted in the fish not panning out the way I hoped it would), the correct butter (we used our own this time out). The recipe says to use filets 3-4 oz. each which we did, but the filets also need to be thick. Ours were too thin. The reason why to use thick filets is that sole is a very delicate fish and the first batch fell apart instead of holding firm. The second batch fared better. The problem with many recipes is that the authors rarely explain the "why" about anything.

So what did I learn? Well, I used a pan that I loved, but it was the wrong pan: the sides were too high, the temperature not high enough and as I mentioned, the sole filets too thin (but you could hardly blame us, they were on sale at Whole Foods, though hardly a bargain after all). Use a long, wide rubber spatula, it's hard to negotiate flipping the fish with a metal spatula. I also didn't have enough sauce at the end to pour over the fish and had to add more butter and lemon into the pan at the last minute to finish the fish--I used too much fresh lemon juice.

That's it. We had a decent dinner just the same, with a side of Celery Victor and a few glasses of a lush German clemensbush riesling with a gentle complexity. Stay posted for the next (hopefully less disappointing) sole installment.

Ina Garten's Easy Sole Meunière
Serves 2

As one is often found in a French market with some time on hand, a few randy Euros, and an ounce of inquisitiveness, Ina posits, "One day in Paris, I decided to challenge myself and just go to the market with no menu in mind. Dover sole was in season and I thought, 'Well, I can make sole meuniere without a recipe, can't I?' Yes, I could! I was shocked by how easy and delicious it was. Of course, Dover sole is the best, but you can certainly use gray sole fillets from any fish store. The slightly burnt butter and the fresh lemon zest give this dish a big fresh lemon flavor. I serve two fillets per person."

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teasoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
"Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready.
Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.
Heat 3 tablesoons of the butter in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. while the second side cooks, add 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish fillets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 2 fillets. When they're done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.
Note: Zest the lemons with a rasp before you squeeze them for their juice. This dish cooks quickly so I prepare all the ingredients before I start cooking."

Good luck.
Copyright © 2008 by Ina Garten. Photographs copyright © 2008 by Quentin Bacon. Reprinted From Back to Basics with permission from Clarkson Potter/Publishers.

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