Sole Au Gratin, Dover Soles with Shallots

This is the cooking of fish in a sauce in an oven at a temperature of approximately 175 °C until the fish is cooked and the surface of the sauce coating is evenly colored and lightly crisp. This method may be applied to whole sole, suprêmes of halibut, turbot, cod and haddock and fillets of whiting.

Makes: 10 portions. Cooking time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

— 10 x 250 grams whole Dover soles
— 250 grams butter
— 100 grams chopped shallots
— 1 liters sauce gratin
— 250 grams sliced butter mushrooms; or
— 30 whole button mushrooms
— 3 dl dry white wine
— 100 grams white bradcrumbs
— 100 grams melted butter
— 2 juice of lemons
— 10 grams chopped parsley

Method:

(1) Remove the skin from both sides of the fish. Cut along the backbone from just below the head to the tail end and almost fillet but do not completely remove the bones. Fold back the fillets and place a small knob of butter under each. Reform the shape of the fish.
(2) Butter a shallow sided earthenware dish, season and sprinkle with chopped shallots. Add a little of the sauce barely to cover the bottom of the dish..
(3) Place the sole on the sauce and surround it with sliced mushrooms. (Alternatively, place three or four button mushrooms along the centre of each fish portion.)
(4) Add a little of the white wine and just cover the fish with the sauce.
(5) Sprinkle the surface of the sauce with white breadcrumbs and melted butter.
(6) Fully gratinate.
(7) When cooked, clean the dish and sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Note:
To test when cooked is rather difficult – if prodded with a fork the surface will be disturbed so care must be taken. The same criteria for assessment as for poached fish apply.

Service:
Serve in the shallow sided oval earthenware dish in which it has been cooked on an underdish with a dish paper.

Assessment of the completed dish:

(1) There should be a light crisp surface which is unbroken to show that the dish has been completely gratinated.
(2) The fish should be cooked to the correct degree —- it should be moist, white, and not have curled during cooking.
(3) The sauce should have the consistency to coat the fish lightly when it is served. The amount of sauce should be in the correct ratio to the number of portions served.
(4) There should be a slight flavour of lemon. (5) The colour of the sauce should be a rich reddish brown.
(6) The flavour of the sauce should be rather rich with mushrooms and wine, though the wine should be rather difficult to discern amongst the stronger flavours of the other ingredients.

Possible problem, cause and solution:

(1) Fish curls during cooking breaking the surface of the sauce:
— backbone of the sole not pierced in two or three places; care must be taken to prepare the fish correctly to avoid this problem which cannot be rectified later.
— cooked at too high a temperature; care must be taken to cook the fish at the correct temperature to avoid this problem which cannot be rectified later.

(2) Surface crust has not formed:
— fish cooked too slowly; care must be taken to cook the fish at the correct temperature and for the correct length of time to avoid this problem which cannot be rectified later.
— sauce is too thin; care must be taken when preparing the sauce.

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