Home Food DigiBites: A Sole Morsel Of Perfection

DigiBites: A Sole Morsel Of Perfection

Photo: The Epicurean Exchange

Dear Readers:

Something to start the week off with! – CC

Chef Charlie with Paule Caillat

According to one of my favorite books about the life of Julia Child, My Life in France, Sole Meunière was part of Julia Child’s first, very significant, meal in France. Her husband, Paul, took her to one of the oldest restaurants in France, Restaurant La Couronne in Rouen, where they served her Sole Meunière. It was a life-changing meal for her, and at this moment was when she fell in love with French Cooking. Here is how she describes it:
“It arrived whole: a large, flat Dover sole that was perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top. The waiter carefully placed the platter in front of us, stepped back, and said: “Bon appètit! I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth, took a bite, and chewed slowly. The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter. I chewed slowly and swallowed. It was a morsel of perfection.” She described this elegantly simple dish as a revelation and as “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.”

This simple dish, its service, and Julia’s (Meryl Streep’s) reaction was also featured in the film, Julie and Julia, when this first meal was presented to her – a favorite moment of mine.

As we head into the early days of autumn, it’s time to present some more homey, rustic dishes. We all need to eat more fish, and good recipes to add to your repertoire are asked for on a regular basis. This preparation is easy, easy, just remember not to overcook fish. Have the plates ready and call the family to the table as soon as the fillets hit the pan!

During the Epicurean Exchange Culinary tour of Paris in 2017, we prepared this dish at a cooking school (Promenades Gourmandes) of a friend, Paule Caillat (pictured with me),  We sourced the fish – Dover sole – in a market near to her school, and it was truly the best I’d ever had: sweet, flakey, moist and melt-in-your-mouth! Here in the 24/680, I suggest using locally-caught Petrale sole. Use a local, unsalted butter (season it yourself, don’t let the butter do it), I prefer Clover. Our dish was served with roasted fingerling potatoes and haricots verts (blanched and finished in butter, shallots and salt).

I hope you enjoy it as much as Julia and I did!
Bon Appetit!
– Chef Charlie

Sole Meunière 

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sole fillets, 4 – 5 ounces each
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh minced Italian parsley

•     Heat a large, non-stick sauté pan on medium heat.

•     While the pan is heating, season the flour with kosher salt and pepper. Pat the sole fillets dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle one side of each fillet with salt. Then coat both sides of the fillets with the seasoned flour.

•     Add 3 tablespoons of the butter to the sauté pan. Once the butter starts to brown, place two of the fillets in the pan. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on medium-low. Carefully turn the fish with a fish spatula. Add half the lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest to the pan. Cook the fish for an additional 2 minutes. Carefully remove the fish from the pan onto a serving plate. Pour the sauce over the fish and keep warm while you repeat the process with the other 2 fillets.

•     Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste and minced parsley.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Inspired by Julia Child


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