Friday, July 6, 2012

Recipe: Venetian Style Sweet & Sour Sole

Yield: 24 (6-ounce) portions
Preparation time: about 1 hour plus refrigeration time
Shelf-life: 3 days under refrigeration

This dish is typically served at room temperature. Its preparation dates back to medieval times but the sweet and tangy flavors are purely contemporary.
16 ounces vegetable oil
6 pounds sole fillets, blotted dry and cut into 3- x 4-inch pieces
Flour for dredging
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
12 ounces apple cider vinegar
24 ounces dry white wine
16 ounces water
4 ounces golden raisins
12 bay leaves
4 ounces pine nuts, lightly toasted
Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)

1. Add about half the oil to a large skillet to cover the bottom; heat over medium-high heat until hot and the surface is rippling. Dredge as many pieces of fish as will fit in the skillet, patting to remove excess flour. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. With a slotted spatula, transfer fish to earthenware or porcelain dishes large enough to hold fish in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Continue until all pieces are cooked, adding oil as needed.
2. Heat remaining oil and add onion slices to the pan, stirring to separate. Turn heat to very low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and lightly colored, about 20 minutes. Pour in vinegar, raise heat and boil until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in wine, adjust heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add water and raisins and simmer 5 minutes longer. Spoon onions and cooking liquid over the fish. Add bay leaves and pine nuts, cover with heavy aluminum foil and marinate in a refrigerator or cool place for 12 to 24 hours.
3. Discard bay leaves before serving and let fish return to room temperature. Garnish each portion with a small sprig of parsley.

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