The Trenchermans Guide RECIPES BY DEVON'S TOP FEMALE CHEF
HOW TO FILLET FLAT FISH
There are many types of flat fish landed on our local shores, which include:
This week I have chosen plaice as the skin markings can be very colourful and for those of you who have not tried filleting yet it is a relatively inexpensive fish to practice on.
On a flat fish there are four fillets. Two dark fillets on the topside, and two white fillets on the underside. The bottom fillets are smaller than the top ones and the white fillets thinner than the dark ones. It is easier to take the thinner white fillets off first and then the bottom fillet of the dark side leaving the largest fillet to last.
Scale the fish and rinse under cold running water using the back of a knife scraping from the tail end towards the head. Using a sharp flexible fish filleting knife make a cut around the head as close to the bone as possible. Next, make a straight cut following down one side of the main backbone. Using the tip of the knife carefully cut the flesh from the backbone to the fins little by little until the whole fillet has been cut away from the bone. Set aside and repeat the process until all fillets have been removed.
Trim the fillets by removing the fin meat and then remove the skin.
Season the fillets with a little good quality sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and fold in to two or three depending on the thickness of the fillets. In order for the fish to cook evenly it is essential that the total thickness of the folded fillets be fairly even.
Place each fillet on a steamer tray on top of a few sprigs of French tarragon. Place some asparagus spears in the same tray and set aside until ready to cook.
I have chosen to serve this fish with Béarnaise sauce together with mashed potato, stir-fried spinach and asparagus. For the Béarnaise sauce recipe visit: www.westcountychefs.com
When your accompanying vegetables are almost ready and your sauce is made, place the fish into a pre-heated steamer until done. I cook mine for just 3 or 4 minutes. As a general rule of thumb the fish should ‘just give’ to the touch. It is also quite useful to estimate how long it will take you to plate up your fish and how hot the plates are – the longer the resting time the shorter the cooking time within reason as the heat in the fish carries on cooking for a few minutes. Take care not to over heat the plates as fish protein cooks at a lower temperature than meat!
N.B. Turbot, lemon sole and brill can be substituted for the plaice. Some fishmongers may require notice for turbot and brill. Alternatively, fish can be purchased by mail order from Percy’s (Tel 01409 211236 for a mail order list or visit www.percys.co.uk) Fish filleting knives can be supplied for £36.50 plus p & p.
Tina Bricknell-Webb holds regular fish cookery workshops at Percy’s. For details telephone 01409 211236
© Tina Bricknell-Webb May 2004
BACON-WRAPPED CHICKEN WITH BASMATI RICE & TARRAGON CREAM SAUCE May 8th 2004
1. Remove the wing tips and set aside.
2. Gently prise the leg away from the carcass so that you can cut through the skin and not the flesh. Cut around the oyster meat and then slide the knife between the joint holding the blade close to the carcass until the leg is removed.
3. Remove the wishbone carefully using the tip of the knife.
4. Hold the knife close to the breastbone and cut down one side as close to the bone as possible. Follow the carcass with the blade of the knife taking care not to cut through the flesh until the wing bone is reached. Cut carefully between the joint and lay the breast skin side down on your chopping board. Repeat the other side.
5. Hold the knife at a 45º angle and sever the wing bone from the breast.
6. Remove the fillet from the breast and set aside.
7. Remove the skin from the breast.
8. Remove the skin from the legs, divide the thigh and drumstick and remove the bones.
9. Remove skin and bones from the wing.
10. Trim the breasts and place the strips of meat together with the breast fillets
Mix some tarragon, salt & pepper into the rice.
Make a pocket with the two breasts.
Place a spoonful of the rice mix in the centre of each portion.
Beat two pieces of bacon per portion until bacon is half it’s original thickness and at least twice the original width. Sprinkle the beaten bacon with some tarragon & black pepper and then wrap the meat diagonally until all the chicken is covered. Place on to a piece of cling film and roll quite tight into a sausage shape. Tie one end. Repeat other end until roll is tight. You should now have seven portions.
Place the rolls into a pan of boiling water for 6 minutes. Remove and rest for 8 minutes. Then remove the cling film, place on a roasting tray and brush lightly with butter or oil. Place in pre-heated oven at 170ºC for 4 minutes. Remove, turn rolls over and rest for 8 minutes. Roast in oven for a further 4 minutes and then rest again for 8 minutes. The breast rolls and the breast fillet and breast trim rolls should be cooked at this stage. The leg rolls need a further 4 - 6 minutes in the oven plus resting time. When ready to serve carve at a 45º angle and fan out on the plate. The tarragon cream sauce is simply a good quality thickened chicken stock with crème fraîche, tarragon & pepper.
This is fun to do and quite inexpensive. I hope you enjoy it!
(The chickens I frequently use come from Providence Organic Farm in Holsworthy, they are slaughtered about half a mile from us and hung for a good 5 days before being dressed, which improves the flavour immensely. They sell for £5.35/kg. Another popular bird bred in the West Country, available from all Lloyd Maunder shops is called the Devonshire Red and costs £4.30 per kilo).
The rolls can be very successfully frozen if not needed immediately – just make sure they are thawed properly before use. The best way to thaw is very slowly in the fridge 36 – 48 hours before needed is best.
Tina Bricknell-Webb holds regular cookery workshops. For details, a mail order list and a sample menu visit: www.percys.co.uk
The 130 acre Coombeshead Estate is open to diners for walking– boots provided. Tel: 01409 211236
© Tina Bricknell-Webb May 2004
Click here to visit our main website - percys.co.uk