Filet of Sole Meunière
Fat, buttery snowflakes are plopping on the front yard, and I'm not even glad. Why? Because I want to go to school tomorrow--to have the opportunity to make braised sweetbreads. As in, cow's thymus gland. I didn't think I'd be excited about it, but today I put them into water to soak overnight, and once I had my hands on them, I was very intrigued by their complete oddity. My classmate told me today that getting the membranes off is a pain in the neck. The curiosity has taken over. What will it be like? Also, how will it taste after braising a couple hours in a sauce?
Today I cooked up some Filet of Sole Meunière at school (24 times). You can look up the recipe for this just about anywhere, but I'd like to share with you some of the techniques, guidelines, and tricks taught to me by Chef KG and also by Steve, a 5th Quarter who was helping in the kitchen today.
Sole Meunière is a simple and intensely tasty way to eat your butter. It's fried in butter, then served with a lemony butter sauce.
Heat your pan over medium-high to high heat, without adding fat yet. Sprinkle your fish with salt and pepper.
After the pan is hot (no need to use a non-stick if you do this right), add clarified butter. As you let the butter heat up, dredge the fish in flour. Only do this at the last minute or the flour will get gummy.
The fish is then fried in the hot clarified butter, on both sides. Using clarified butter for this is great because it has a higher smoke point. Your fish is so thin that you'll want to use high heat to get a nice, crusty finish on each side before that sucker is all cooked through. It only takes a couple of minutes.
It's a delicate fish. Flip once. Start with presentation side down (flesh side, not skin side--even if the skin is off) on the pan.
After removing the sole and arranging it on your serving plate, you add some (not-clarified) butter to the pan and brown it, making "beurre noisette." Noisette means hazelnut. The milk solids in butter become brown and nutty in appearance and aroma.
After you finish browning your butter--hence adding more complex flavors to the sauce you're building in the pan, you add some lemon juice.
Here's a trick Steve taught me today with that lemon juice. Tilt the pan over your heat so that all the butter is at the bottom. Add the lemon juice from the top, so it runs down the super-hot pan to finally reach the butter at the bottom. By doing this, you reduce the lemon juice briefly, in its trip down. I have no idea how much reduction you get by doing that, but it sure is fun.
After the lemon juice, add chopped parsley to your sauce. Quickly swirl, then pour over the fish on the plate(s). Garnish with lemon slices and more parsley (if desired).