Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Dishes like this have all but disappeared from the French restaurant scene, and it’s a damned shame.  To a home cook it may at first look challenging, but with a food processor it’s really very easy.  It’s also persuasive proof that the classic cuisine française should not be overshadowed by innovation, weirdness, and dazzle.  All of those, now common in contemporary restaurant cooking, have their place; but classicism reminds us that elegance is a virtue worth preserving, and that the evolution of traditional food has strongly selected for deliciousness.

The mousse purifies the flavor of the fish; its airy lightness is a joy on the tongue; and the dugléré is one of the best-tasting things in the world.

This recipe makes six to eight main-course servings.  It’s very rich, so the servings should be small.  The dish also makes a fine first course.

For the mousse:

1¼ lb. filet of sole
2 eggs
salt, pepper, cayenne, freshly grated nutmeg
1½ cups cream

Cut the fish into one- or two-inch pieces.  In a food processor blend the fish and the seasonings to a coarse purée.  Add the cream in a slow stream through the top.  It’s important not to over-process the mixture.

Butter a four- or five-cup ring mold and pour in the mousse.  Or make individual servings in ramekins.  Cover with the mousse with buttered wax paper.  Set the mold or ramekins in a heatproof container and add water to a depth of half an inch or so.  Bring the water to a boil on the stove, then bake until set.  For the ring mold, that will be 35 to 45 minutes; for the ramekins, check at 25.  Let stand for five to ten minutes.

For the sauce:

1.5 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped; canned tomatoes are fine
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced shallots
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp flour
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup fish stock—this is important, don’t leave it out
1 cup cream

Cook the shallots and onions in the butter, gently, till translucent.  Add the flour and cook briefly.  Add the tomatoes and cook about fifteen minutes—until medium-thick.  Add the wine and the fish stock and cook for ten more minutes.  You may want to strain the sauce at this point, especially if there are tomato seeds in it.  Add the cream and bring to a boil.  Season to taste.

Unmold the mousse and nap with the amazingly bright-pink sauce.  Craig sprinkles on chopped parsley, but you may find that that detracts from the beauty of the dish.

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