Sole Murat

Why this dish – which is basically sole meuniére with vegetables – should be called sole Murat is one of those little mysteries that makes the terminology of the French professional kitchen: (a) endearing, (b) insufferably pretentious.

Murat was for a time Napoleon’s favourite general. A small man, he was famous for going into battle armed with a whip with which he used to flog the retreating foot soldiers from his superior position on horseback. Perhaps he celebrated his victories with fried soles, noisette butter and a garnish of diced artichoke bottoms and diced potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 large globe artichokes
  • 170 g/ 6 oz potatoes
  • 115 g/ 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 soles, black skin removed flour
  • about 100 ml/ fl oz sunflower oil
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped flat leaved parsley

Method

Strip the leaves from the artichokes, cut away the choke hairs and any stalk. Cut the bottoms into dice and reserve. Peel and dice the potatoes.

Put 30 g/ 1 oz of the butter and half the olive oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and immediately add the potato dice, stirring and turning to coat. Turn down the heat and fry, tossing from time to time until the potato dice begin to brown. Transfer to a dish and keep warm. Fry the artichoke dice in the same amount of butter and oil until just cooked. Add to the potatoes.

Put 2 frying pans over a medium heat. Season the soles and dust them with flour. Put 3 tablespoons of the sunflower oil in each pan and fry the soles, turning once. Depending on size, they should take between 6 and 8 minutes. When done, transfer the fish to a hot serving dish, spooning the vegetable dice around them.

Dust the tomato slices with flour, season them well and fry them in a little more oil over a high heat until browned on both sides. Place 2 tomato slices on each fish.

Wipe out the pan with kitchen paper. Put in the remaining butter, place over a moderate heat and, as it just begins to go brown, pour it over the fish. To finish, squeeze over some lemon juice and scatter the chopped parsley over the dish.

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