p1, Pissaladiere

enhanced-buzz-29835-1385791378-15The Dish

This particular little flatbread comes from Provence, along the southern coast, in particular focused in the town of Nice. Though I’m not quite sure why or how its regional identity gravitated to that specific city, Pisssaladiere’s origins are not surprisingly shared with the close neighbor of Italia. Supposedly the “day of creation,” much like with Ceasar and his Coq au Vin (just switch the countries), a French Pope named Clement (those who’ve studied Chateneauf du Pape are familiar with him) travelled to Rome for business (his Chateau and office were still in France), upon which the local cooks had to scramble to make something with the new ingredients he had brought over. After taking some salted fish that was brought over, they turned it into a paste and spread it over a local flatbread, likely foccacia, finishing with cooked onions and sliced olives (local or French is unsure, likely local). The new dish was a hit, and the rest is history, with families making versions of the dish on both sides of the border. Nowadays, at least in France, the anchovies are used whole, often criss-crossed like one of our own pies, instead of sauced on.

What I find most interesting, and amusing, is the name. One’s first thought when reading it, and seeing the thin flatbread-with-toppings, is its obvious connection to “pizza.” Which, apparently, there is none. Absolutely none. I know right? I mean it’s got it in the name, just s instead of z.

Well, the name actually comes from the Latin (once more some Italian origins, and yet still no technical relation to pizza evolution) pissalat, “salted fish,” as well as pissala which is similarly “salted fish/anchovy paste.” And though the true origins of the term “pizza” is in debate, there being multiple words that it’s thought to evolve from, my research has turned up that not ONE of the theories links to Pissaladiere. So I guess we’ll just have to settle with a boring, non-pizza related French history of a salty flatbread that technically originated in Italy.

A Word On…

20140625_155844Anchovies:It’s not much of an anchovy dish unless one can find the GOOD anchovies. Though I can’t say much for ordering specialty French-caught and hand-preserved fishies, I know any decent quality store or market (Italian ones too) should stock some good options. Got this little jar at my local seafood place, and god they were delicious; the ‘chovies were HUGE, and actually sorta thick (not those steamrolled strips of salty paper) and meaty… so good. Did NOT get as much from the container as I thought, though, so the resulting pie was a bit lacking in toppings. Which is fine, the flavor’s quite noticeable.

Olives:I just love a good, tasty, cured olive. Whenever I find myself in a certain Italian shop, sooner or later my mouth ends up hanging over the giant buckets filled with the whole fruit in their oil/brine to sample. So when I was at a local wine and cheese shop, and saw similar quality Italian Green olives in their case, I couldn’t help buying some ahead of time for the unique dish I knew I was soon to create.

Then I actually did some research and found out that pissaladiere usually uses Black French Olives… oops. Probably could have found some too, or at least a better substitute. Oh well, at the end of the day, as far as I care with any olive dish, all one needs is a delicious, good quality variety that you love. Pretty easy to find, just don’t do it from those long buffet-trays in the nearby supermarket.

20140625_163101If you’re not familiar with preparing un-seeded olives, it’s easy, but depends on how attached the seed is to the flesh. Usually it’s pretty simple to smash them under the flat of your knife and pop one out, then cut your thick, not-so-perfect rings. Some will NOT cooperate, so you will have to cut around.2014-05-08 18.45.39-2

Onions:Looking through recipes, I’ve seen two main ways to cook the onions (white or yellow), without any real highlight on which is properly classic. There’s sautéing with herbs and garlic until soft, then getting those edges nice and golden; and then there’s just caramelizing it to the max. Due to my unsurety, and the ability to work with a whole round, I thought I’d just go ahead and do a half-and-half, see what I prefer. I mean all I needed to do was separate half the onions partway through cooking; capers, instead of heating through like the soft onions, should just be sprinkled on top of the caramelized before cooking.

Dough:Like the Flammekeuche, most recipes out there focus on some form of bread dough as the base. It’s not the only kind used though; quite a few sources list this dish as made with either Bread or Shortcrust dough (basically pie dough). In fact, when debating which style I should use, I ran across an article mentioning the commonality between French and Italian pissaladiere. Seems the only difference seen between the two, other than potential inclusions of red veggies across the border, is the French’s use of Shortcrust. Thus my decision was made; though the origins of any topping’d flatbread would begin with simple bread dough, the shortcrust makes a fun differentiation that’s still classic with the culinary interests and trends of the last couple centuries. If you want to go with a bread dough, then I suggest any decent looking recipe that uses olive oil (yeasted or not, it seems to be the one commonality).

Pissaladiere
1 Stick/4oz Butter, chilled
7oz Flour
1 Egg, Beaten
1 Tb Water and/or Anchovy liquid
3-4 Yellow Onions
1 Tb Olive Oil
1-2 Bay Leaves
Thyme Sprig
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine
1 Tb Capers
3-4 oz Quality Olives
1 Jar/Tin Anchovies, however much needed/desired
Black Pepper

Directions

  1. To make the dough, chop the cold dough small and rub, with fingertips, into the flour until mostly “cornmeal” texture, leaving some larger lumps for flake purposes (can also do this in a food processor).20140625_155858
  2. Mix in enough of the Egg, Water, and Anchovy Oil/Liquid to bind everything together. Reserve remaining egg to the side.20140625_160347
  3. Press into a firm, flat round, chill in fridge for at least an hour.20140625_160921
  4. While this is cooling, chop onions into the desired size (I like large chunks, thin slices cook up very well though).20140625_161049
  5. Heat a pan up to Med/Med-High heat, while at the same time preheating the oven to 400F, with baking stone.20140625_162331
  6. Add Olive Oil, Onions, Bay Leaves, and Thyme, cooking until soft, 5-8 minutes depending.20140625_162555
  7. Add in Garlic and continue cooking until edges are nicely golden and caramelized. Chop capers fine, mix in, and continue to cook about 2 minutes more or until flavor is well incorporated. Turn off and let chill.20140625_163937
  8. Prep other ingredients, slicing Olives as needed and draining Anchovy Filets on paper towels.20140625_163525
  9. Remove Shortcrust dough from fridge, transfer to floured countertop, and roll to ¼” thickness. Trim to a large rectangle or circle, rolling up the edges to form a rim (one could also roll the leftover dough into thin strips and attach).20140625_172759
  10. Move to a well floured and cornmealed paddle/baking sheet to start filling.20140625_174306
  11. Fill the bottom with a thick layer of the soft onions (herb stalks removed), sprinkling the desired amount/concentration of olives on top. Arrange anchovies over in a cross-hatch pattern.20140625_182350
  12. Wash the edges with the remaining egg and transfer to baking stone in oven, cook 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned and crust is set and flaky.20140625_182428
  13. Remove, let cool a couple minutes, slice and enjoy.

The Verdict

I can’t say I was able to reach the ideal of what this dish should be, I mean obviously I needed WAY more anchovies (I swear it looked like there was a lot more in that jar), but the elements were still very satisfactory. I officially prefer the golden, not-completely-caramelized onion base in terms of bringing that overall Provencal flavor; plus it’s still soft without hiding the beautiful onion flavors under pure caramel. The nice, pickled and salty garnishes come out even more and make for a nice appetizer, particular with that super-flaky pie crust base. Speaking of which, I wonder if the result I got was still “traditional;” if anything I feel like I wanna go for dough more reminiscent of what’s used in many of the dessert Tartes, crispy and semi-flaky but nice and firm. If I have any leftover from one of the desserts I am sure to make in the future, I might go ahead and use it to make another pissaladiere. Because it’s delicious.

20140625_181648Primary Pairing – Muscadet a Sevre et Maine

If I were to pair this dish Regionally, I might have gone with something like a Rose, as Buzzfeed well suggests, or potentially find a random white wine from the oft-unseen, not-well-known little regions that rarely meet our market to much acclaim. But I only have one rose at the moment, which I already have a specific dish in mind for, and the latter would be a giant pain to research, and even then I wouldn’t have enough confidence in my palette expectations of these wines which I’ve had no experience with.

Besides, at the end of the day I found myself craving a certain little region on the western coast of the Loire River known as Muscadet. Using the Melon de Bourgogne grape, the wines of this region are known for a particularly unique identity, especially those of the Sevre et Maine AOC. Made near the sea, using a method known as “sur lie” where the wine is allowed to rest on the settled yeasts and other particulates, it develops trace amounts of both salty and yeasty notes, along with an almost imperceptible fizz or effervescence; aspects which make it great to match the briny anchovy-olive pizza and buttery pie crust. Followed with a light body and refreshingly crisp acidity, a good Muscadet would be able to stand through any hints of richness and pungently preserved flavors without overpowering, a perfect aperitif choice.

20140625_181344My Bottle: 2012 Selection des Cognettes Muscadet S-et-M, Sur Lie

Always a great, readily available and affordable bottle from this region, the Cognette vineyard is able to keep flavors clean, with nice notes of elderflower and pears alongside the typical yeastiness, without getting too much of that “fatty” skin feeling I find in most low-end white wines (it’s hard to describe really). Made for a nummy accompaniment to the flaky tartlette. I coulda sworn I took a picture of the glass with the sliced triangles of the pissaladiere too, but somehow it’s disappeared…

Secondary Pairing – Fino/Manzanilla Sherry

What better drink to pair with a light, super salty, coastal dish made in a hot southern region than a Fino Sherry, made in the white albariza hills of Southwest Spain, the sea breezes wafting over the stockpiles of sherry casks in the giant Solera system. Such versatile fortified wines they produce, and the completely uncolored, notably salty and acetaldehyde notes (unique yeasty, nutty, creamy notes subject almost solely to Flor-affected products, like sherry) go amazingly with a myriad of dishes, especially this anchovy-laden tarte. The body may be a bit high, but its acidity and pure, clean flavors can cut through to make one reminisce of a lighter experience. Taken in sips, like a fine brandy, a chilled Fino or Manzanilla mixes with Pissaladiere to make a stimulating start to any day of leisure.220px-CatavinoEnMano

p1: Cod Accra

My folks headed out on a Caribbean trip a little while back, which gave me the perfect excuse to make the only two Martinique items on my French 44 list. The dessert post should be up pretty quickly.

The Dish

Martinique and Guadeloupe certainly aren’t the first regions we think about when France comes into conversation, their culture still being heavily Caribbean in nature, though French customs do come into play. But it remains that Rum is the productive drink of choice as opposed to wine, with bananas and other uniquely Caribbean food products serving as the base of their economy, truly anything even resembling French ingredients needing to be shipped overseas. “Martiniquan Creole” is the main language, a heavy conflagration of French, Carib, African, English, Portuguese and Spanish, and something traditional French people refuse to try and understand due to its intense differences. Though I hear its syntax and other such things are slowly transverting closer to Standard French.

Both of these islands were originally acquired in 1635, after Columbus’ discovery and passing on (Spain wasn’t too interested in this either place). The French Company of American Islands told two of their men, Jean and Charles (their last names are too long for me to want to bother… though not as long as this little sideswipe, huh), to colonize any of the isles of Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Dominica. They chose the first, apparently due to “Martinique’s inhospitable nature,” yet oddly enough a Mr. Belain d’Esnambuc landed in the same year and claimed Martinique for the French King. Then again, he was driven off his own island of St. Kitts by the British, so he probably didn’t have much choice.

And from there, both islands swapped back and forth between the French and British due to various wars and whatnot. The two were finally traded back and settled as French owned at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War (though they lost Canada… darn), and here we are. Okay, some more stuff probably happened before and after that, but I’m getting bored of history, food now!

enhanced-buzz-5151-1385795528-5I would have very much enjoyed writing something on the history of Salt Cod or the Fritters known as Accras, or Acra, or Akra, or… whatever, it’s got lots of name that all sound like the same damn thing. But for the life of me I couldn’t find ANYTHING in my books, online, my searches yielded nothing but recipes on the matter. Maybe it’s hard to quantify the proper path that fried batter dough has taken through various cultures, either that or most inland French people are too snooty to ever consider this Caribbean dish important enough to ever affect them enough or be apart of any interesting cultural event/situation.

Which is a shame, no matter the reason, for they are awesome and delicious and crispy and oh god I want to make more right now. But I have lawn work to do soon, so I should finish this up and get to it. Let’s start with the Fish!

A Word On…

Salt Cod:Heavily salted, air dried, this ingredient has held itself as one of the most important in history, at least for Europe, for its ability to keep over winter (and probably year round too) and over travel. I’ve been wanting to play with it for quite a while, but had yet to find the excuse to go to one of the good seafood/meat markets to grab the frozen pine wood box of goodness (frozen too, really? There must really be almost no one buying it if most places that have it need to freeze this as well… I mean I’ve seen videos of it sitting in open-air markets with no problem). Obviously I need to make more sopa verde.20140415_223843

Luckily it’s not that difficult to find outside of the most basic stores and markets (though no luck in Whole Foods or certain Co-ops either, depending). It’s preparing it that comes the trouble. There’s a reason it’s called Salt Cod… it tastes like salt. It practically is salt, with a bit of fish to hold it in. But when you get it out… one has a bundle of firm, nicely chewy cod fish that’s great for cooking in whatever. The task to turning it into this stage is simple, but long, taking at LEAST 24 hours to soak in cold water, which should be changed multiple times. After 24 hours, it should be ready for fritters, since we’ll be cooking it in a separate liquid bath before using, though if using for soups I would suggest lending it out another full day.

As a Minnesotan, I can’t help but be reminded of Lutefisk… only more of a firm texture instead of fish jelly.

What it is:Unlike other fritters, I’ve found the more traditional recipes for this in fact do NOT revolve around just mixing every ingredient together in a large bowl. Instead, a simple batter of flour and liquid (maybe eggs) is made on the side, mixed into the fillings, and then one folds in some heavily beaten egg whites, sorta like making a mousse or soufflé.

Now, there seems to be no real consensus on the use of other fillings; I’ve seen a simplified fritter of purely cod and green onion, and ones loaded with herbs, spices and strong aromatic veggies. I like using the cultural flavors to flesh it out, but I didn’t want to get bogged down in excess, so the question became what do we keep?

The few ingredients I keep seeing used in most fritter and Caribbean recipes are green onions, some scotch bonnets, a big thing of parsley, shallot or garlic, and of course limes. Spices vary, but the main flavor I’ve found in use is Coriander, aka dried Cilantro seeds. It’s so popular some recipes switch out the Parsley for the herb version instead, which I debated doing… but I stuck with both spice and parsley. As always, those making this should make it however they want, but I think the mix I got is pretty darn close to traditional flavors and balance.

Scotch Bonnets:Basically, Habaneros. One of THE staple ingredients in Caribbean cooking, you can find them used in many a recipe. As such I found that, if I were to mix various greens and aromatics and such into the fritters as I did, some habanero was a must; it gives an interesting fruity tart spice that I love with the green onions and other things. I definitely suggest playing with it in some form, at least in the side sauce.

20140417_164301The main note when doing so, though, is to be sparing and handle it carefully. If you haven’t heard the lecture about hot peppers yet, wear a damn pair of gloves. Or, if you can’t find any (I swear I had some, but… disappeared…) do everything possible to avoid touching the peppers directly; some plastic wrap or other item to hold the habanero while you carefully de-seed (some may argue the flavor loss with other peppers, but you really don’t wanna risk it with habanero and hotter level peppers) and slice. Oh, and don’t bite into it directly… ask Alton Brown, this is not a lollipop!

20140417_153620Milk and Water: One of my weirdest quandaries in figuring out the recipe I was to use for my fritters was the debate in using milk or water, for both poaching the fish and as the liquid in the batter. On the one hand, using the fatty milk does seem like quite the French go-to, but then again my main French book reference details a light poaching in a water steeped with bay leaf and other aromatics, also a pretty typical cultural technique and great expression of gentle cookery. Similarly with the batter, I couldn’t quite figure if a French milk enrichment or water purety was the better for structure.

Whatever decision you make is up to you, I guess on any old day I’d just stick with milk and maybe some cream too. But for this I decided to compromise; a typical stock-reminiscent water bath and some creamy milk batter.

Sauce:Well they’re little fried balls of fish dough, can’t eat it without lubrication! From what I can tell, there’s nothing particularly typical so long as it suits the Caribbean theme. Mojos, Jerk Sauce, Papaya coulis-thingy, a bottle of tasty hot sauce, whatever; though I’d say anything that’s nicely tart, a bit spicy, and not really “heavy” would work best. I decided to stick with the sauce recipe attached to the French 44’s Acras link, “Dog Sauce.” The ingredients and flavors matched the ones in my fritter, so it worked.

Cod Accra
½ lb Salt Cod
2 Bay leaves
3 Garlic Cloves
Salt and Pepper
2 Shallots
½ or 1 small Habanero
3 Green Onions
2 Tb Parsley or Cilantro
Juice and Zest of 1 Lime
1 tsp Coriander Spice
3 Eggs
1 cup Flour
¼-3/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Soak Salt Cod in Cold Water at least 24 hours in advance, changing it a minimum 2-3 times throughout.20140415_224117
  2. Drain and lightly simmer in water bath with Bay Leaves, crushed Garlic, Salt and Peppercorns until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.20140417_151624
  3. Remove, shred with fork and/or fingers.20140417_160711
  4. Finely chop Shallots, Habanero, Green Onion, and Parsley, mixing with cooked cod alongside the Lime (juice+zest), Coriander, and seasonings.
  5. Separate the Egg Yolks from the Whites, reserving both. Mix two of the yolks with Flour and enough milk to make a THICK Batter.20140419_164015
  6. Heat oil for frying up to 375F, or 385-390F if using a smaller pot (it’ll drop fast anyways).
  7. While heating, mix the cod in with the batter.20140419_164339
  8. Beat all the egg whites, electric works easiest, to soft peaks. Fold into the fritter batter.20140419_170456
  9. Drop a few large spoonfuls of batter into the oil at a time, cooking until deep brown and crispy, 5-10 minutes depending. Turn halfway through cooking.
  10. Move to paper towels to drain oil, transfer to serving platter and serve alongside Dog Sauce (recipe follows) or other tart and/or spicy condiment.20140419_172246

Dog Sauce
2 Green Onions20140417_165201
1 Clove Garlic
1 Habinero
2 Tb Parsely
Zest and Juice of 1 Lime
¼ cup Water
2 Tb Olive Oil
Salt n Pepper

Directions

  1. Finely chop Onions, Garlic, Habinero, and Parsley, mixing with the Lime Zest.
  2. Boil water, pour over the veggies, mixing around and letting steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Add Lime Juice, Oil, and seasoning. Mix and serve, or chill overnight.20140417_170041

The Verdict

Surprisingly eggy, but in a good way; it wasn’t like the rubbery or other overcooked/otherwise too much egg flavor. It was noted, but small, adding a different flavor and texture than I normally think about with fried foods; a French flavor. It’s weird to say, but it’s actually my favorite aspect of the whole thing.

Though it’s a close 1st place, with the gloriously strong and complex Caribbean flavors of onion, scotch bonnet, and cilantro accompanying the tender and firm cod fish. It was glorious, and once again another dish to come in and make me debate it as my favorite so far. Then you add the tart and poignant “sauce” and we go to happy land.

20140419_173617The only downside is that I was unable to get that perfect crispy texture on all of them, or all over the ones I did for that matter. Always one of the issues when having to fry in a small pot while conserving oil… and trying to change batches quickly to cook them all (was serving them for a party, so had to make a whole platter of the fritters). Wasn’t able to hit the high oil temperature all the time sadly. Well, just take it as a lesson; there are consequences to not being able to hold that high temperature.

Not that they still didn’t taste amazing.20140419_173902

Primary Pairing Vinho Verde

Since the “region” of Acras’ origin is quite a ways off from mainland France, I think I’m definitely free enough to use non-French wines in the pairing. In particular, I like the idea of going off Spain and Portugal, what with their large historical trade importance and history with Salt Cod. That said, I just had to grab something from either Vinho Verde(in the North of Portugal) or Txacolina(an interesting set of regions in northern Spain). Though neither is known for any sweetness to battle the hot habinero notes, the razor-sharp and intense acidity of a high quality Vinho Verde more than makes up for it, dealing with both the fat while dancing with the spicy notes in an interesting fashion. With a naturally lower body, simple and singular flavors, and a bare and bright little fizz of effervescence (bringing a nice bit of tannin to go with the light fish texture), Vinho Verde has become well known as one of the perfect food wines. It’s a shame we rarely if ever get any of their Reds in (though I did see a rose at a tasting recently).

20140419_170655My Bottle:2011 Broadbent Vinho Verde

Most of the vinho verde one finds in liquor stores is really cheap, somewhat generic crap version that hasn’t helped to build it any reputation in the US. If one goes to any decent wine store, though, you should be able to find at least one really good quality. The great thing is even though good ones, like this Broadbent, clock around only $11-$14, depending (sota like the Greek Retsina, which also wouldn’t be too bad a pairing with accras).

Broadbent is just what I was craving; limey, strong and acidic wine that goes down easy, an almost gulpable affair to drink with the crispy, eggy cod fritters. I didn’t have to think about much, there was fun little frizz, and a bare bitterness also quite characteristic of the region, all the aspects contrasting the hot pepper-oniony-lime flavor in the food. Either way, it made me happy.

20140419_172859Secondary Pairing – Rum Cocktail

Cuz it’s the Caribbean! Need I say more?

Okay fine. Rum, besides being the distilled beverage of the islands, has a natural sweetness which counters the hot qualities nicely. And the caramelly notes in the darker and/or spiced rums goes well with the fried brown crust. Mix it with some ginger ale, coconut, pineapple, or other typical mixers, and you calm it down for easier pairing while increasing the “Caribbean feel” of the meal. Oh, don’t forget the lime!

 

p1: Sole Meunier

The Dish

Famously known as the meal that launched Julia Child’s desire for the French kitchen, one could theory Sole Meunier as singularly responsible for America’s culinary history as it is today. Reverse that, we could also say that if not for enhanced-buzz-20146-1389047781-0Julia Child’s inspiration and success, this highly simple dish of pan-seared flatfish with butter sauce might never have graced the books as a true “French Classic” along with its many compatriots. Perhaps it’d have been bullied out by a roaming pack of angry Langoustines…

But luckily for us, we don’t have to consider the dystopian alternate dimension that union would have destroyed, and we can experience and enjoy those lovely flavors for ourselves! And how easy it is to put together. The actual dish, born in the Northern area of France along the Rivers and Seaside and now famous for Rouen, consists purely of two main steps. A nice filet of sole is dredged in flour and sautéed in butter, the “Meuniere,” or “Miller’s Wife” style, and then topped with a lemony brown butter sauce (made in the same pan). So let’s get into it shall we?

A Word On…

Fish: Sole isn’t necessarily the easiest of fish to come by in a regular supermarket, but luckily for us it’s not that rare either, especially since there are multiple kinds of Sole available: Dober, Lemon, Petrale, and other very similar Flatfish in its family such as Turbot and Flounder. One should be able to find a good, fresh version of it, off and on, at any market with a decent meat and seafood section. Back home I mainly rely on the local Coastal Seafood, an amazing store that really focuses on acquiring only good quality, sustainable Fish and Seafood products.SAMSUNG

If a Substitution is need or desired in anyway, look for any white fish with naturally “thinner” filets and meat. Though it’s also a member of the Flatfish family, I would never suggest using Halibut as a “proper” substitute, as the meat is always just so thick, not to mention its becoming a bit generic of a fish.

Oh, and please buy fresh; no frozen fish for a nice, proper meal!

Brown Butter: This recipe relies on the cook adding butter into the pan AFTER cooking the Sole, which is then transferred to a covered plate and/or oven to keep warm, while they make brown butter a-la-minute. Which is what I’m doing so as to follow the traditional recipe of course, but I don’t actually see this step as truly needed so as to receive the same results.

A fun suggestion for those who don’t want to wait for the sauce to cook, or don’t want to risk any cooling off or drying out of the out-of-action-fish, is to make a batch of browned butter beforehand. Just toss a bunch of unsalted butter into a saucepot and turn on med-high. After it melts, start stirring it occasionally and keep an eye; the solids and liquids will start to separate as it changes color, deepening to a nice chestnut brown. Once those rich aromas of nuts and caramelization start to surface, you know you’re done (or close to it); take off the heat and either strain or sift out the cooked solids.

Once prepared, you can just add a scoop of this directly to the pan in place of raw butter, warming quickly for an instant brown sauce. Added bonus, you can make a large batch of brown butter ahead and use the deliciously caramelly fat to flavor a number of things (pour some over warm steak, OH so good).

Sides: It actually took me a while to find out what this is traditionally served with, as most recipes just talk about the fish, or may have some random veggie or starch with no discussion into if the origins are shared or not. But, after a bit of searching, the “classic” accompaniment to Sole Meunier is Boiled Potatoes. Though I’m not stopping you from enjoying it with mashed potatoes, baked, rice (white or brown or wild), or whatever you want. It’s just a fun thing to know I think.

Sole Meunier
2 Filets Sole (Dober, Turbot, etc)
1-2 Tb Flour
½ Tb chopped Thyme
Salt n Pepper
6 Tb Butter
2 Tb Lemon Juice
2 Tb chopped Parsley

Directions

  1. Clean , Filet, and Deskin Sole, if not done alreadySAMSUNG
  2. Preheat large sauté pan to Medium
  3. Lightly dredge fish in a mixture of Flour, Thyme, and Seasonings
  4. Melt 1 Tb of Butter in pan, lay skin (flat) side down in pan, letting rest 3 minutes until lightly crisped before flipping over.SAMSUNGSAMSUNG
  5. Remove after another 3 minutes, crisped with fully cooked, tender flesh. Transfer to a plate covered in foil, or into a warm oven, and turn pan heat up to med-high.SAMSUNG
  6. Add in rest of the butter, whisking and watching carefully until it turns and amber-brown tone, releasing rich, gentle nutty flavors.SAMSUNG
  7. Quickly whisk in Lemon juice and chopped Parsley, move the warm filets onto a plate alongside Boiled Potatoes, and drape your Brown Butter Sauce over the top of each.
  8. Enjoy

The Verdict

Tender, juicy filets with subtle notes of proper fish flavor (not “fishy,” but that noted freshness and roundness of the sea in the back of your mouth), just making for a great bight of the ocean. Eaten with that heavy but soft texture of the boiled potatoes, which still lets every delicate note in the Sole shine alongside the starch’s mild flavor, and one just has warm happiness. Then we top the both of them with the toasty, nutty butter, the contrasting lemon juice offering an interesting zinginess to the dish as a whole.SAMSUNG

The one thing I regret is I don’t think I got the kind of crust I could have, especially after seeing a few other recipes for this. If making this, best to ensure that one gets a good, even and “thick” coating of the flour, along with some more butter in the pan whilst frying. But besides that I think it came out as a deliciously simple fish dish.

Primary Pairing – French Blonde Ales – “Biere de Garde”

I’m pretty sure it’s the potatoes, because right after I learned of serving them as a side for this my tastebuds started to crave a creamy, sudsy, full medium-bodied blonde beer. Something with the weight of a Vouvray to match those boiled spuds but a freshness and purity in aroma similar to Sancerre to pair with the delicate fish and sauce. And with the center of France’s non-wine fermented drinks (such as cider and beer) starting to appear as one slowly travels to the colder areas of the Norther Reaches and Alps, this becomes one of the great dishes in this list to introduce the pairing possibilities.

Sadly, French Beers aren’t the most often seen in the hordes of selections at various wine and spirit stores, beer focused or non. I find many of the lighter malted Belgians a great stand-in as well, such as Saisons. And speaking of Belgians…

My Bottle: Belgium Tripel Karmeliet

SAMSUNGAh, I’m so glad we had this guy hiding in our downstairs fridge. Made with a combination of Wheat, Oat, and Barley, this slightly fuller version of one’s typical pale ale gives a nicely malty, grainy palette that pairs really well with the browned butter. Combined with the typical Belgian citrusy, fruity floral hop nose to balance the tart lemon presence, this makes for an excellent beer to pair with a dish like this. Then there’s getting into elements like body matching, tannins, contrasting light bitterness with fat, etc, but all we need to know at this point is that it works and is very delicious.

The best part, in my opinion, is being able to enjoy and highlight a good quality beer with light complexity next to what is ultimately a very simple and uncomplicated fish dish.

Which is always a great rule to keep in note when one starts getting SAMSUNGinto Fine End Food n Wine pairing: if the flavors in One of them is Complex, the Other should be Simple. Having two simple things is fine, but if both elements are complex, they end up battling and drowning each other out in a confusing whirlwind of loud and buried molecules. That doesn’t mean they can’t both be high quality; a very well cooked Filet Mignon next to a Grand Cru Musigny (Burgundy), or a Paella of the freshest Seafoods accompanied by a sharply acidic and juicy Sancerre from a good year.

And there you have your Unneeded Rambling Wine Lesson of the Month!! -exaggerated thumbs up-

Secondary Pairing – Cremant de Loire

Or a Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Cru Communaux (basically quality Muscadet from Clisson, le Pallet, or Gorges which have spent 18+ months on their Lies, or yeasty sediment), if you can find it. Both have nice, lighter fruit and mineral-based flavors and aroma, faint and delicate sparkling qualities (Muscadets being known for just a bare petillant fizz) to bring only a bare amount of tannin in, and just enough yeasty, bready creaminess to stand up with the potatoes and walk alongside the browned butter. Overall I think it’d come in as a perfectly buttery, frothy, starchy, nummy mouth party. Not to mention the whole Regional pairing aspect along the Loire river.

Take that next to a Champagne, which brings larger bodies, super-rich toasty bread notes, and more noted CO2 on the palette, it’d overpower the dish as a whole by a few small steps.SAMSUNG

If you enjoyed the sound of this dish, you should see what I did with its leftovers Here!