Soles in Coffins

Our church-going Victorian forebears named this dish with a play on the words 'souls' and 'soles'. Any kind of sole can be used. Dover sole has the best flavour and is the most expensive but lemon sole and witch or Torbay sole are more widely available; either would be good in this dish.


serves 4
4 large potatoes, each weighing about 225 g (8 oz),
pricked with a fork
salt and white pepper
8 small sole fillets, each about 75 g (3 oz), skinned
1 small onion, skinned and finely chopped
200 ml (7 fl oz) dry white wine
75 g (3 oz) butter
100 g (4 oz) mushrooms, sliced
50 g (2 oz) plain flour
300 ml (1/2 pint) fresh milk
pinch of ground mace
100 g (4 oz) peeled cooked prawns, thawed if frozen
fresh parsley sprigs, to garnish


1. Bake the potatoes at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 1 1/2 hours, until soft.

2. Season the fillets, then roll them up, skinned side inwards. Scatter the onion over the bottom of a heavy-based frying pan or shallow flameproof casserole that is just large enough to hold the fish. Place the fish on the onion, pour over the wine, cover and poach for 4 - 5 minutes, until the fish is tender and just flakes - it is important not to overcook them. Carefully remove the fish rolls from the pan, reserving the cooking liquor.

3. Put 50 g (2 oz) of the butter in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook gently for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in 225 ml (8 fl oz) of the milk and strain in the reserved cooking liquor. Heat, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the mace and prawns. Season to taste and remove from the heat.

4. Cut a slice from each potato, then, using a teaspoon, carefully scoop out the centres and put in a serving dish. Mash the potato flesh with the remaining butter and milk. Season to taste.

5. Place the potato shells on a baking sheet and place 2 rolls of sole in each potato. Divide the sauce between the potatoes and replace the slices of potato.

6. Bake the stuffed potatoes and the mashed potato at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for 10 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with parsley sprigs.

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