Grilled Herrings with Braised Lentils and Mustard Seed Sauce

Grilled herrings whole on the bone with a separate hot English mustard sauce was one of the very first dishes I was taught as a young chef. They were very nice to eat, but hard work. So, to simplify everything for the diner, I decided to take them off the bone and try them just with the sauce. I then needed something to eat with them, and mashed potatoes worked very well, but I find lentils even tastier.

Ingredients

  • 8 large herring fillets

For the Braised Lentils

  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 25 g (1 oz) carrot, finely diced
  • 25 g (1 oz) celery, finely diced
  • 25 g (1 oz) onion, finely diced
  • 25 g (1 oz) leek, finely diced
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 100 g (4 oz) green lentils (lentilles de Puys)
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Mustard Seed Sauce

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • ½ leek, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) dry white wine
  • 600 ml (1 pint) Fish Stock
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) double cream
  • About 2 teaspoons Meaux grain mustard

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and butter and season a small flameproof baking tray.

To cook the lentils, melt the butter in a small ovenproof braising pan. Add the diced vegetables and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the lentils, stirring well. Cover with the stock and bring to the simmer. Cover with a lid and braise in the pre-heated oven for about 30–35 minutes until the lentils are tender and all the stock has been absorbed. Make sure they are tender before taking them from the oven. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the sauce, sweat the vegetables and bay leaf in the butter for a few minutes. Add the white wine and boil to reduce until almost dry. Add the fish stock and continue to boil until reduced by three-quarters. Pour on the cream and cook slowly until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the mustard a teaspoon at a time until the right taste is achieved, mustardy but not overpowering.

To cook the herring fillets, place them on to a greased baking tray and brush with butter. Cook under the hot grill for about 5–6 minutes. As soon as the fillets have coloured they will be ready to serve.

To serve, spoon the lentils on to the centre of four hot plates, pour the mustard sauce around and sit the fillets on top of the lentils. The dish is now complete!

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