Perch Fillets in a Shallot

and Red Wine Sauce

4 servings

A version of this Bernard Loiseau dish is still served at the restaurant in Saulieu. At presentation, the crispy skin of the perch sits atop the meltingly rich shallot "fondue." However, the perch one finds at Washington area fish markets might be too small to yield the right-size fillets here; sea bass or rockfish makes a nice substitute.

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, about half of it cut into small pieces

2 cups shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 8 to 10 large)

3 cups red Burgundy (almost 1 bottle), such as Gevrey-Chambertin

Sea salt

3 teaspoons duck fat*

4 perch fillets, with skin, about 4 ounces each

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrot and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chopped carrot to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Reduce heat to low and add the shallots, stirring occasionally. Cook for 40 minutes or until they have achieved a jamlike consistency. Remove pan from the heat.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess grease, and blot the skillet with paper towel as well. Return the shallots to the skillet, putting them to one side. Set aside.

In a wide medium pan, add the wine and bring to a boil. (The original recipe calls for a quick flambe of the wine here, but we've omitted this step.) Turn down the heat to medium and let the wine reduce to about 3/4 cup, about 30 minutes. Add the carrot puree and whisk well to combine. Transfer the wine-carrot sauce to a fine-mesh strainer and force through, then return to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and, in 5 or 6 additions, whisk in about 8 tablespoons ounces of the butter cut into bits, stirring constantly. Add sea salt to taste. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the shallots in their skillet on low heat, then add the duck fat and the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.

When ready to cook the fillets, run your fingers over the fillets to find and remove any small bones. Season the fillets with salt and pepper to taste and place them, skin side down, in the skillet. Increase heat to medium, cover the pan with a lid and cook the fillets, about 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked through.

Using a wide spatula, transfer the fillets, turning them skin side up, to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess fat.

To serve, pour the warmed wine sauce on a wide platter. Add the shallots in four small mounds and top with the fillets, skin side up. Serve immediately.

*NOTE: D'Artagnan brand duck fat is available at some Super Fresh stores.

Per serving: 753 calories, 24 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 51 g fat, 174 mg cholesterol, 30 g saturated fat, 194 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com