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January 20, 2012

Grazing: Sole Meunière With Meyer Lemon

Sole_meuniereOld habits die hard. It's around this time every year when the most ambitious post-holiday food resolutions begin to fade, and fat, sugar or other offenders begin to creep back into our diet. After all, it's freezing out, and the body wants to pack on calories as much as the mind wants to keep them at bay.

Sole meunière is one of those dishes that gracefully treads the line between abstinence and indulgence — it's clean and light on the one hand (fish, herbs, lemon), and kind of naughty on the other (butter, wine). Most appealing, though, is its simplicity: The sauce is ridiculously simple but flavorful, composed of just three ingredients. Famously, it was the first dish Julia Child ever tasted in Paris, and she called it "a morsel of perfection" and "the most exciting meal of my life."

It's also dead easy to make: Buy the freshest sole you can find (preferably Dover), some lemons and parsley, and a bottle of wine you can sip while cooking. Using Meyer lemons isn't mandatory but will add another layer of sweetness to the sauce. (Right now, Shaw's is selling hefty bags of them for under $3.) Using a splash of wine is totally nontraditional, too, but I like the slightest pucker that it lends to the dish. Because sole is a very light, flaky fish, you'll want to be extra-careful as you turn it, lest it falls apart in the pan. Even if it does, though, the flavors will still be there — it's like eating a pat of butter melted in the ocean.

Sole Meunière
serves 2

1 lb. sole fillets
enough all-purpose flour for dusting
salt & pepper
5 Tbsp. butter
a touch of dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is perfect)
1 lemon (preferably Meyer)
handful of parsely, chopped

Heat the oven on its lowest setting. Wash sole and pat dry. Put a few spoonfuls of flour on a plate, and add a few pinches of sea salt and generous amounts of pepper. Quarter the lemons. Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Dredge sole until completely coated. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat until butter begins to froth. Add sole to pan, seasoned side down, and sear until brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn sole and brown the other side, then remove to a hot plate and place in warm oven. Repeat with remaining fillets.

Pour a splash of wine into the pan to deglaze, scraping up any brown bits with a spatula and letting it mostly evaporate. Add the last pat of butter and let it brown. Turn off heat, and add parsley and juice from lemons. Swirl to combine. Pour sauce over sole, and serve.

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