Sole Meunière (Miller’s Wife Style)

September 24, 2011

November 3, 1948, while dining with Paul at La Couronne in Rouen:

“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.”

A life altering meal for Julia Child …”an opening of the soul and spirit for me.” A transforming event for us too.

The vitals to classic sole meunière are fine fresh fish, a heedful sauté and a gently caressed beurre noisette. More a dash than long distance, this dish demands your undivided attention. What follows is crispy-sugary fish, nutty butter, grassy parsley, all gently cut by lemon. Sole meunière may not be trendy, but if done right, you will fall hard.

SOLE MEUNIERE

2 C all purpose flour
4 sole fillets (4 ozs each)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T unsalted butter

4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 T chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200 F

Pat fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over medium high heat until shimmering. Then add butter and swirl until melted, then foamy. Meanwhile, dredge the fillets in flour, shake off the excess and place them immediately in the pan with the hot oil. Do not flour the fish beforehand and allow to sit, or you will wound these sweet morsels.

When foam subsides, add the sole and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes. (As always, crowding is frowned upon, so cook in batches.) With a slotted spatula, carefully turn fish over and cook until opaque in center and golden, another 1-2 minutes.

Remove the fish from the pan and reserve on a racked sheet tray in the oven. Repeat the process with the remaining fish fillets. Keep warm while making the sauce.

With a paper towel, remove only the excess oil and butter from the pan. Add the additional butter over medium high heat shaking the pan frequently to prevent scorching. When the butter is quite bubbly, add the lemon juice and whisk to combine. As the butter begins to turn nutty brown, season with salt and whisk in the chopped parsley. Remove from heat.

Plate and spoon the sole with sauce.

Pourboire: consider doing the same with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

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