This recipe for the classic French preparation of filet of sole, called sole a la Grenobloise, was adapted from one of Julia Child’s recipes. The beauty of sole is its simplicity. Its flavor isn’t assertive; its texture is lovely and delicate; and the filets are thin so they cook in a flash.
Because it cooks so quickly, it’s a pro move to prep everything ahead and have it in place for cooking. Chop parsley and drain capers, have the butter handy and the lemon ready to squeeze. If you’re serving a salad or anything else with the fish, get that ready too.
Serve this for a weekend lunch. Once the fish is cooked and the wine is poured, you’ll feel very French as you settle into a luxurious midday meal.
1 pound sole (6 small to medium filets)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup flour
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons capers
Juice of ½ lemon
Heat oven to 200°F. Place a serving platter and 2-4 plates in the oven. 15 to 25 minutes before you’re planning to eat, line a sheet pan with paper towels and remove thawed sole from the refrigerator. Place filets on tray and pat the tops of the filets dry.
Clarify the butter: Get a small, fine-mesh strainer and a preserving jar ready next to the stove. Place 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. It will melt, bubble, and sputter. Once the sputtering and sizzling noises die down, but before the butter starts to brown, remove from heat and pour through strainer. Discard milk solids; the clarified butter can now reach a higher temperature without smoking – it can also brown beautifully without burning.
Sprinkle the filets with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a large plate. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is warm add 1 to 2 tablespoons of clarified butter, enough to give the pan a generous coat. When the pan is hot, dredge 2 or 3 filets (depending on size of pan) on both sides in the flour and place in pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, then carefully transfer filets to the platter in the oven. Sole is very delicate so turn the filets carefully (fish spatulas for the win).
Repeat until all filets are cooked and warming in oven. Wipe skillet clean and place back over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter and when it’s just barely melted and still foaming, add the parsley and the capers. Swirl around and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove fish from oven, pour sauce over the fish, and serve. Delightful with a salad – so rich but light at the same time.