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Posted on Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 5 a.m.

Peggy Lampman's Saturday dinnerFeed: Sole Meuniere

By Peggy Lampman


Sole Meuniere

Peggy Lampman | Contributor

Butter and bacon have enjoyed a recent flourish of attention in the past year. Did flavor really ever go out of fashion? On a local level, the original and wonderful book "Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon", by Zingerman co-owner Ari Weinzweig, explores the marvelous world of really good bacon and bacon fat. On a national level, the recent movie release of "Julie and Julia" gently reminded us that butter does indeed transform a dish, exponentially adding flavor to our favorite recipes.

In the movie, Sole Meuniere (and butter) play starring roles. And since Julie and Julia's release, most food bloggers (worth a pound of butter) have written about this simple, classic dish. I held out as long as I could, until tonight. It's my turn to throw in the towel, simply because I'm exhausted and Sole Meuniere is so easy to make--indeed, you'd have a hard time ruining it.

Sole Meuniere was Julia Child's first, life-altering, meal in France. Quote Julia: "It arrived whole: a large, flat Dover sole that was perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top. The waiter carefully placed the platter in front of us, stepped back, and said: "Bon appètit! I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth, took a bite, and chewed slowly. The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter. I chewed slowly and swallowed. It was a morsel of perfection."

This recipe is another example of one of my favorite truism: When in doubt, add more butter. If you're horrified by the amount of butter in this recipe yet dine out often, understand this amount of butter is probably equal to the amount in your favorite restaurant dishes. Those dishes are tasty for a reason.

If you're still shaking your head in dismay, I empathize. It is, after all, the week following Thanksgiving. Substituting olive oil for much of the butter makes a fine, though different, dish, similar to a trout recipe I made several months ago.

This does not replicate the Julia Child's recipe to the letter but it comes reasonably close. I used a 1 pound bag of frozen Dover fillets purchased for $4.99 at Trader Joe's. I understand it can't possibly compete with an entire Dover sole freshly pulled from the sea, but it will do in a pinch. I picked up a bag of Meyer lemons yesterday at Hiller's for $2.99. I'm out of parsley but always have capers. I served pasta on the side with additional lemon-butter sauce and chopped chives.

We'll enjoy this dish tonight and run a few extra laps tomorrow.

Yield: 3 servings Cost: $7.00 Time: 15 minutes


1 pound sole fillets 8 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup flour Juice from 1 lemon, divided, plus extra slices for garnish, if desired Freshly chopped parsley 1 tablespoon capers, optional


1. Pat fish fillets dry and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fillets in flour. 2. In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. 3. Once the butter starts to brown, place half of the fillets in the pan.  Cook for 3 minutes or until well-browned, and carefully turn over with a large spatula and guiding hand.  Add juice from 1/2 lemon to pan and cook an additional 2-3 minutes on other side or until nicely browned. 4. Remove from pan, tent with foil, and repeat with remaining fish, adding remaining butter and lemon juice to pan.   5. When fish is cooked, pour the pan sauce over the fish, garnish with lemon slices, parley or capers and serve.

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