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Classic French food recipes include sole meuniere, a fish dish made with just a few ingredients. Lots of butter is one of them!
Some cooks complicate classic French food recipes by adding extra ingredients, but we recommend to keep these easy French recipes simple.
Sole meuniere is all about the butter. Burn the butter and it's ruined, you will have to start over. Undercook the butter and you won't get the crunchy exterior that's so important to this dish. The secret is to cook the butter until it's golden brown, with the fragrance of hazelnuts.
Also essential to easy French recipes is having the right cooking equipment. In this case, you'll need a heavy-bottomed skillet that can take the entire filet. If the skillet isn't big enough, you'll end up with fish chunks. And that's simply not the same.
Once you've mastered the butter the rest is a breeze. Done correctly, this classic French recipe is a showstopper. Sole meuniere is best served simply, on a plate with a light dash of freshly chopped parsley, a garnish of the nut brown butter sauce and a scoop of yellow, mashed potatoes.
French Food Recipes Tip: Have the oven on low to heat the plates to just warm. The fish will stay warmer longer.
These French food recipes come from our award-winning book – How to Cook Bouillabaisse in 37 Easy Steps: Culinary Adventures in Paris and Provence. To get all 49 recipes, plus tales of our culinary adventures in France, simply order the 300-page book. It's only $19.95 and shipping is free (US, CA, Europe).
2 large sole filets
½ cup butter
1 cup unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon salt
Warm a couple of plates in the oven or warming oven. Put the flour on a large plate and mix in some sea salt and some ground black pepper. Dredge the sole in the flour mixture to coat both sides and lightly shake off any excess flour. Set aside.
Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium. Melt the butter, making sure that the pan is not too hot. The butter should be nicely bubbling, but not burning. This may take a bit of trial and error.
When the butter is bubbling, becoming a golden brown, and gives off the scent of hazlenuts (a matter of a few seconds), place the sole into the skillet.
Cook the sole until you can see the edges browning nicely, being careful to control the temperature so the butter doesn't burn. Gently lift a corner of the filet with a spatula to check that the first side is golden brown. This should take 3 to 5 minutes.
Flip the sole by carefully lifting up a corner of the filet so you can slip a large spatula under it without scraping off the coating. Be careful that the filet doesn't break while you're turning it. Cook the other side the same way, for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the sole to the heated plates. The butter should be a nutty, golden brown color. If it's not continue to cook it in the pan for a few moments after the fish has been removed. Spoon the butter over the filet and serve immediately with a slice of lemon. It's excellent with garlic mashed potatoes.
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