Sole Normande

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This dish has nothing—and everything—to do with Normandy. The conundrum lies in the fact that the classic garnish, “a la normande,” contains oysters, mussels, and shrimp—so far so good, as far as Normandy is concerned. The puzzle starts when the list continues: mushrooms, shredded fresh black truffles, freshwater crayfish cooked in vegetable broth, fried gudgeon (small fish), and shaped croutons. That is obviously the cooking of the Ile de France and its grande cuisine capital, Paris.

Philippe has wisely stuck to the original, much simpler concept: fish stewed in the heavenly fresh thick cream of Normandy along with its cider. Serve with buttered fingerling potatoes tossed with haricots verts.

Ingredients

  • pounds fresh sole fillets, preferably Petrale sole, 2 to 3 ounces each
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened French cider or dry white wine, preferably sauvignon blanc
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • ¼ pound mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method

Pound the fillets gently with the flat side of a knife to tenderize them slightly.

Put the shallots and cider or wine in a large sauté pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the cream.

Season the fish fillets with salt and white pepper on the skinned side and fold over end to end. Put the folded fish into the cream. Cover and cook over very low heat until the fish is firm, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, cover again, and cook for 3 minutes. Carefully remove the fish and mushrooms from the pan; cover to keep warm. Boil the cream until it is reduced by half, or until it lightly coats a spoon.

Drain any juices from the fish and mushrooms into the sauce. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Return the sauce to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Gently return the fish and mushrooms to the hot sauce and let sit 3 minutes to reheat before serving.

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