Sole Bonne Femme

An adaptation of one of the classic dishes of France, Sole Bonne Femme (sohl bawn fawhm) is a delicate mixture of sole fillets and mushrooms cooked in white wine and fish stock. The original classic dish called for two sauces, the creamy wine sauce used here and Hollandaise Sauce, but the version given below is the one most usually cooked now.

Serve with buttered French beans and boiled new potatoes for an elegant meal. A bottle of well-chilled Sancerre wine would go well with this dish.

1 oz. plus

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 ½ lb. sole fillets, skinned

4 oz. button mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped

4 fl. oz. dry white wine

4 fl. oz. fish stock

1 tablespoon lemon juice bouquet garni, consisting of

4 parsley sprigs, 1 thyme spray and

1 bay leaf tied together

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons double cream

12 mushroom caps, sauteed in

1 oz. butter

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). With the teaspoon of butter, grease a large shallow, flameproof casserole.

Rub the salt and pepper over the fillets and set aside.

Arrange the mushrooms and shallots over the bottom of the casserole and top with the fish fillets (they may be folded in half to fit if necessary). Pour in half of the wine, the fish stock and lemon juice and add the bouquet garni.

Cover the casserole and place it in the oven. Bake the fish for 15 to 20 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Remove the casserole from the oven and remove and discard the bouquet garni. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish fillets to a warmed serving dish. Set aside and keep warm while you finish off the sauce.

Strain the cooking liquid into a jug or mixing bowl, pressing down hard on the vegetables with the back of a wooden spoon.

Discard the contents of the strainer.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually add the reserved cooking liquid and the remaining wine, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth. Return the pan to low heat and cook the sauce, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until it is thick and smooth. Stir in the cream and remove the pan from the heat.

Pour the sauce over the fish and garnish with the mushroom caps. Serve at once.

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