Sole Veronique is one of the dishes that is a perfect comfort food. It is extremely easy to digest and the lovely smooth, creamy sauce with grapes could lift anyone’s spirits or help them rise from their sick bed. However it is also a great dish as a light supper or as a fish starter.
It was the great French chef, Georges Auguste Escoffier who invented Sole Véronique, while he was at the Carlton in London to celebrate the opening of the French opera Véronique. It is a simple dish of Dover sole, poached in white wine. A cream sauce is made with the poaching liquor, grapes are added and then poured over the fish. Since Dover sole is quite expensive and not always easy to come by it is sometimes substituted with other types of sole such as lemon sole, flatfish such as plaice or any other firm fleshed white fish. I used tilapia, since there were no sole to be seen.
- 2 fillets of Dover Sole or other firm, white fleshed fish
- 1 cup (235ml) of dry white wine or vermouth
- 1 cup (235ml) of heavy cream
- 1 tbsp of shallots, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp of chopped parsley
- 4 or 5 whole black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 10 to 12 white seedless grapes, halved
- 1 tsp of fresh tarragon, chopped (optional)
- Salt and pepper (white pepper would be preferable)
In add the fish, wine, bay leaf, shallots, lemon juice, parsley and peppercorns to a small skillet with a lid. Bring to a very low simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can poach the fish in the oven if you wish in a buttered oven proof dish, covered with foil, for about 15 to 20 mins at 175C (350F).
Remove the fish to a warm place. Pass the cooking liquor through a sieve and add back to the skillet. Reduce the cooking liquor by half, then add the cream and the grapes. Cook gently for another minute or so. Add the tarragon if you wish. Check for seasoning. Plate up the fish and gently pour over the sauce. Serve with simple vegetables such as potatoes or a simple salad.
You can also use this sauce for making Chicken Veronique, a modern take on the original dish. The process is the same, but the chicken needs to be poached for a little longer.