Dorade Sauce Vierge avec Gratin de Courgette

I would hate to make a post just about the disastrous coquelet (little chicken), so I’m just going to revisit why last Tuesday went so atrociously.

After being told I must speed up my act repeatedly I decided to power steer my way through dressing the Coquelet a l’Americaine. Grilled split carcass and oven cooked for 18 minutes, marinated with mustard, bread crumbed and browned under the salamander. I’m not sure what was American about this little chicken, but I’m pretty sure mine wouldn’t have been claimed by any nation. Here’s why:
1. I cut up the carcass through its breasts. Oops.
2. My sauce was way too thin.
3. My tomatoes were overcooked and falling apart.
4. My chicken’s breadcrumb coating was burnt.
I’m not sure why I took it home as I threw it straight into the bin and had more to wash up.

How not to split open and flatten a chicken

Burnt bits covered up with grilled bacon

I was quite pleased to be back on fish after the last two weeks of poultry pandemonium. Filet the dorade, with sauce vierge (something I’d learnt at Rick Stein’s school a few years back) and a pureefied courgette gratin. I was dubious about pureefying the gratin when it came out looking like a golden cozy and crusty bed of cheese, cream and courgettes. Why ruin a perfectly pleasing side dish by turning it into baby food? Because it plates really well. Gratins baked in massive batches look clumsy when cut up. Puree beds look lovely. Got it.

As per usual, the lunch service went much more smoothly than the previous night’s dinner. High points were getting the fish to cook perfectly, mixing up the sauce vierge garniture to a lovely freshness. Low points were serving possibly the only preggy lady in the dining hall a severely under-cooked filet and having it sent back, and then making another table wait for 25 minutes consequent of preggy lady’s fish. I really hope she wasn’t too put-off by our crappy cooking and got to enjoy the replacement.

Filet de Dorade, Sauce Vierge, Gratin de Courgette

Filet de Dorade Sauce Vierge avec Gratin de Courgette
For the Fish
8 filets of sea bream (or sea bass if feeling wild)
Piment d’espelette (allegedly the best chilli in the world. I doubt)
Olive Oil
For the Sauce Vierge
0.5 bunch parsley, emincer
0.5 bunch chives, emincer
0.25 bunch dill, emincer
100g tomatoes, deskinned, deseeded, brunoise
100g fennel bulb, brunoise
200g black olives, chopped
50g capers
Half a lemon’s juice
2 lime’s juice
1 lime zest
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Soy sauce, dash
100g pine nuts, toasted
100g white part of spring onions, ciseler
1 bunch of green part of spring onions, ciseler
200ml olive oil, super quality stuff
For the Courgette Gratin
1kg courgettes, sliced into rondels of 0.5 cm thickness
100g garlic, finely chopped
200g comte cheese, grated
0.5L cream
0.5L milk
Salt and pepper

1. To prepare the gratin, mix the courgette slices and mix with the garlic and place on a baking pan. Pour in the milk and cream, season with salt and pepper, and cover with the grated cheese. Bake at 180C until the top is golden (takes about 45 minutes to an hour).
2. Could serve as is (delish) or drain the excess liquid using a strainer and then transfer the gratin to a food processor and blend into a puree. Check seasoning. Reserve warm.
3. Mix all the vegetables and herbs for the sauce together and then dress with olive oil, lime juice, zest, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and salt. Mix well and let it rest to infuse. Adjust to your taste.
4. Season the filets with olive oil and salt. Sprinkle piment d’espelette only on the flesh side. Heat some olive oil on a non-stick pan over low-medium heat and sear skin-side down for a minute. Flip over so that the skin is facing up and place on a baking tray to bake in the oven at 200C for 4-5 minutes till cooked.
5. Serve bream with sauce and gratin.


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