While sitting in isolation, the brain doth tick. My cookery books are out and old series of classic shows are playing continuously on the laptop. One of the very best is ‘Floyd on France’ starring Keith Floyd touring the various acclaimed food regions of France.
Through this show I discovered the wonderful Maison des Tetes in Colmar. The classic French cuisine is still abundant there just as Floyd left it. An episode viewed earlier in the week featured a trip to Brittany. Incidentally, all the episodes in the series are available on BBC Iplayer and through YouTube.
In Brittany, Keith visited a restaurant in St Malo. The restaurant featured numerous seafood specialities (being so close to a port of course) and Floyd knocked up a dish of his own. Monkfish tail roasted with bacon, onions and white wine. “Gigot de Lotte”.
This dish caught my eye as it was so unusual. The tail was stuffed and tied in such a way to make it appear like a leg of lamb, hence the term ‘Gigot’. Leicester Market was going to be my replacement for St Malo as the fish selection there is superb most days.
Sure enough, I found a large monkfish tail for £12. This would easily feed 4 people or two extremely hungry people such as us. The tail was left completely intact as I would be roasting it on the bone.
Butchering the monkfish wasn’t too tricky. A sharp knife is an absolute must, as with any butchery. I found a wonderful instructional video here on how to do it. Simply glide the knife under the skin to gradually remove it and then take off all the silver skin that you can.
Keith Floyd, in his book, states that the bone should be completely removed. I thought that i’d be clever and make two incisions either side of the bone but not all the way through. Effectively, this would create two pockets. Into the pockets I could then stuff both the garlic and parsley. I kept the trimmings for a fish stock.
Monkfish roasted on the bone is meant to be delicious, hence the reason I kept the bone in. All that was left to do was to secure the tail with string. I tied around six knots and by the time I was finished the tail looked spookily like a leg of lamb, as promised.
I dotted around some pre-cooked slices of onion in the buttered roasting dish. Then a liberal sprinkling of bacon lardons goes around the whole lot (or lotte, rather). Into the oven it goes for around 20 minutes – I was looking for an internal temperature of 63C.
Once the fish is cooked, something strange appears. The meat at the narrow end of the tail pulls back from the bone, revealing the bone itself. This creates the illusion that you have just baked a whole leg of lamb. Incredible really.
I removed the fish, bacon and onions and kept them warm on the side. Placing the roasting tin over a high heat and adding wine deglazes the pan. All the good flavour from the roasting process now ends up in the sauce.
To finish the sauce, I added double cream and butter for optimum richness. The smell in the kitchen now was heavenly, when fish is cooked this fresh it’s an absolute pleasure to the senses. Time now to plate up.
The meat slid from the bone with the gentle push of a fork. I had hit the temperature dead on and rested the fish for a good ten minutes. I don’t really do enough monkfish cookery so to get this result was a pleasant surprise.
I had also cooked some roasted potatoes with garlic to go on the side. With the fish slathered in sauce, bacon and onions along with a glass of wine in hand, I tasted. Wow! What a plate of food this is.
Keith Floyd’s recipes very seldom disappoint me. The dish has everything. Succulent monkfish which is superb on the bone. Bacon, onions, wine and cream are meant to be together and will always taste superb. Butter just makes it that much better.
All in all, a triumph. A relatively simple dish as well that won’t take too long to prepare. I love classic French cookery and this is a wonderful example of it. Keith’s book continues to be one of my go-to choices when I need a simple French classic to make me smile.