Braised fillet of brill with ceps and chestnuts
This is very much an autumnal dish making use of fresh cep (porcini) mushrooms and chestnuts and inspired by my early autumn visit to the Dordogne. I’ve had a lot of success partnering flatfish like brill or plaice with quite meaty sauces. You’ll see that I’ve added some slow-cooked pig skin too, which gives the sauce a lovely silkiness. You can leave this out, though, or use a little diced ham fat instead.
- 600ml/20fl oz chicken stock
- 700g/1lb 9oz brill, plaice or flounder fillets, skin on
- 100g/3½oz unsalted butter
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 60g/2¼oz confit pork skin (see tip), very finely diced, or diced ham fat
- 75ml/2½fl oz dry white vermouth
- 100g/3½oz vacuum-packed chestnuts, sliced
- 100g/3½oz fresh cep (or porcini) mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 20g/¾oz pecorino sardo (or normal pecorino) cheese, finely grated
- small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- mashed potato and wilted spinach, to serve
Pour the chicken stock into a wide saucepan and boil rapidly until it is reduced by half. Pour into a jug and set aside.
Cut across each fish fillet so you have four pieces. Melt half of the butter in a wide saucepan large enough to hold the fish fillets in one layer. Add the shallots and diced pork skin and cook gently for 4–5 minutes. Add the vermouth, chestnuts and reduced chicken stock, then simmer for another 4–5 minutes until thickened. Add the cep mushrooms and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the fish fillets on top of the mushrooms, cover with a lid and cook for 6 minutes over a medium heat until the fish is cooked through. Carefully remove the fish and keep warm. Add the remaining butter and the cheese to the pan and boil rapidly for a few minutes until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Stir in three-quarters of the parsley. Put the fish back in the pan and garnish with the rest of the parsley. Serve immediately with mashed potato and spinach.
If ceps aren’t in season, use large chestnut mushrooms with 20g/¾oz dried ceps. Soak the dried ceps in boiling water before using.
You can use diced ham fat or follow Rick Stein’s recipe for confit pork skin:
- 450g/1lb pork skin with 1cm/½in of fat attached
- 100g/3½oz salt
- 600g/1lb 5oz duck fat, goose fat or lard
For the confit pork skin, cut the pork skin into pieces measuring 8x2cm/3¼x¾in. Cover all of the pork skin pieces thoroughly in salt and put the salted skin in a glass bowl or oven dish. Cover well and leave in the fridge for 6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1. Rinse off the salt and dry the pork skin. Place in an ovenproof dish, cover with a lid or foil and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Remove from the oven.
Carefully transfer the skin to sterilised jars, top up with the fat or lard and leave to cool. Store in the fridge until needed; it should keep for weeks or even months.