As with the rest of the foodie population, I've been getting into Julia Child lately. I recently finished reading My Life in France. It was a wonderful book that made me appreciate Mastering the Art of French Cooking even more. Upon finishing the book, I was inspired to whip up a dish that I would normally not. More a baker than a cook, I almost never make sauces. Here's my first attempt at a sauce from Julia's repertoire.
Pêcher avec sauce velouté is fish with white sauce, or to the American eye, fish n' gravy. I didn't know that this sauce was supposed to be/look like gravy. Sauce just sounds fancier. As much as I tried to deny it, this béchamel sauce is downright gravy. Julia said that it goes with eggs, fish, chicken, veal, and veggies. If you say so, Julia. You're the expert.
I embellished the sauce with some sauteed onions and celery in a bit of olive oil - cooked until almost tender. I like red onions because of their color and mild flavor.
Butcher Paper! Butcher Paper! I want to be buried in butcher paper! You think I'm joking.... For this dish you can use any white fish. (That rhymed.) I wanted to use cod, but my grocery store didn't have any. These small tilapia fillets worked well though.
Lay zee poisson over the bed of celery and onion. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Season the other side with S & P too. (It must be rhyming day.)
Remove the cooked fish from the pan and set aside. This is my attempt to keep them warm. Mostly a fail.
Toss in a chunk of butter - a tablespoon. Let's make a roux.
Add to the melted butter, a tablespoon and a half of flour. Stir until combined and bubbly.
Pour in one cup of hot milk. Season with half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper. Whisk briskly over medium high heat until the sauce comes to a boil. Let it boil for a minute while still stirring. You'll know when it's thick enough - draw a line on the back of your spoon with your finger. If it doesn't run, it's thick enough.
This photo is less than lovely. This dish is less than lovely, I'm sorry. It's hard to make fish and gravy look good together. Anyway, I returned the fish to the pan with the sauce so that they could be the same temperature as the sauce.
Ah, my lovely fish n' gravy with a side of German potato salad. I was wondering if I had poured on too much sauce, but after watching a few episodes of The French Chef, I found that I was pouring lightly. It seems that Julia Child loved her sauce - lots of it. After she was done pouring, you couldn't even see what was underneath. She's my kind of lady.
See Julia Child whip up this versatile white sauce during this episode of The French Chef. The sauce part is about 7 minutes into the 28 minute show. (I hope you watch the entire episode because Julia is just wonderful, and this episode is a special one because she's shown preparing a spinach turnover with her cookbook partner Simone Beck in her own kitchen in France.) Bon appetit!