Rick Stein's Braised Brill
This is very much an autumnal dish making use of fresh ceps (porcini) and chestnuts and inspired by my early autumn visit to the Dordogne. I’ve had a lot of success partnering flatfish like brill or turbot with quite meaty sauces. It’s a bit like putting curry with fish – some say curry spices completely mars the flavour but I always say as long as the fish is beautifully fresh, they enhance it. Some people don’t approve of adding cheese to a fish dish, but I think a little salty, acidic, earthy Pecorino adds a sort of umami element to the sauce. You’ll see that I’ve added some slow-cooked pig skin too which gives the sauce a lovely silkiness. You can leave this out, though, or use a little diced ham fat instead.
|700g||brill, plaice or flounder fillets, skin on|
|3||shallots, finely sliced|
|60g||confit pork skin, very finely diced, or diced ham fat|
|75ml||dry white vermouth|
|100g||vacuum-packed chestnuts, sliced|
|100g||fresh ceps, sliced|
|2 tsp||lemon juice|
|20g||Pecorino Sardo cheese, finely grated|
|small handful flatleaf parsley, chopped|
|salt and black pepper|
Pour the chicken stock into a wide pan and boil rapidly until it is reduced by half. Pour it into a jug and set aside.
Cut across each fillet so you have 4 pieces. Melt half the butter in a pan large enough to hold the fish fillets in one layer. Add the shallots and diced pig skin or ham fat and cook gently for 4–5 minutes. Add the vermouth, chestnuts and reduced chicken stock, then simmer for another 4–5 minutes until thickened. Add the ceps and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
Place the fish fillets on top of the ceps, cover with a lid and cook for 6 minutes over a medium heat until the fish is cooked through. Carefully remove the fish and keep it warm. Add the remaining butter and the cheese to the pan and boil rapidly for a few minutes until the sauce coats the back of a spoon nicely. Stir in three-quarters of the parsley. Put the fish back in the pan and garnish with the rest of the parsley, then serve with buttery mashed potato and wilted spinach.
If ceps aren’t in season, use large chestnut mushrooms with 20g of dried ceps. Reconstitute the dried ceps before using.