French - Main
Following on with my autumnal and comforting meal theme, I decided it was time to cook Chicken Provençal.
I have very fond memories of this dish, with my mother making this for myself and my three brothers.
The roasted peppers, capers and black olives give a distinct Mediterranean vibe.
This meal really does not take long to prepare - and once done can be left in the oven on a low heat should you wish to serve this after a nice long walk!
Roasting the peppers really helps to intensify their flavour, as well as remove the skin from the final dish. The same can be done with the tomatoes - but frankly life is too short on a week night.
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There is a rule in skydiving, that whenever you experience a first or even mutter the word; whether a new canopy, new aeroplane, new discipline of jump - then you must buy a case of beer at the end of the day.
I really like this rule, as it brings people of different levels and groups together at the end of a fun packed day to chat and relax over a drink or two. It also marks a stepping stone in your skydiving career.
You may wonder what relevance this has to Sole Meuniere. Well, all I can says is parallel’s exist - let me explain. My “first” experience of this dish was as a young teenager on holiday in France with my family. As I have mentioned previously, every summer we would go away for 2-3 weeks doing the Eurocamp thing - OK, I am probably showing my age!
Anyway, I digress. Like the first time I ordered Trout Almodine (Trout with Almonds) or Les Ailes de Raie (Skate Wings), I can still recall with vivid recollection the first mouthful of each dish and exact ambience and setting within the restaurant. It is like being back in the old ramparts of Marseilles, Leon, Reimes experiencing the dish for the first time. (Eating out was a rare and memorable occasion). What is similar between the two events is the way it sticks in the mind, the passing of an event - first time eating a flat fish, first wing suit jump etc. All shine as moments in life that we never forget. To this day, I remember my Mother explaining how there were four fillets, and to work from the centre out. (Needless to say, I still recall a mouth full of bones as I scavenged every last morsel of fish from the slightly mangled remains!).
I love the lemon zingy, salty, nutty buerre noisette sauce that harmonises so well with the delicate flavours of the lemon sole.
I served this with some simple wilted spinach and some lightly crushed new potatoes. A wonderful spring/summer evening dish.
Being a gym freak, the quantity of butter in this dish is quite breathtaking. However, once in a while, a few extra hours in the gym are totally worthwhile! It would be criminal to not pamper such a delicious fish!
Those who are observant will see *blush* I slightly burned the shallot - watch out for the residual heat of the pan when you add them!
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This dish brings back very fond childhood memories of summer holidays to France with my family.
I remember us frequenting the food markets of Bezier, picking up beautiful fresh vegetables, meat and fish.
To this day, I believe it is one of only three dishes that I can recall my father cooking. The other two were unsupervised efforts, whereby he set fire to a wooden spoon whilst making spaghetti and managing to weld a pizza to the oven by not removing the polystyrene underlay. I clearly do not inherit by father’s cooking genes! (Update : I spoke with my Mum on Skype last night, and was reminded that the chips were always fetched from the campsite takeaway! I did think that was a culinary step too far for Dad!)
This is a very easy dish to make and pretty much foolproof.
The Pernod is optional, but in my opinion, a must, as it gives a wonderful but subtle aniseed flavour. If you need to have Pernod, a handful of tarragon would also work very well.
I like a little chilli after kick after, but you can leave out if you wish.
Serve the mussels with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the broth and a good handful of crispy chips. Enjoy with a glass of white wine!
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