We are nearly at the official start of summer. Barely does a barmy evening go by when I don’t try to find an excuse not to sit in the garden, a chilled glass of rosé in hand and within reach, a small dish of green, crescent moons – in the form of Lucques olives from the Languedoc.
So what to follow? I’m drinking our Cazal Viel Rosé 2016, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault grapes. It will happily accompany me from aperitif to table where little red mullet fillets are waiting for me, sitting on top of crispy rounds of potato and some fennel, cooked to a fondant and spiked with a little chili. To welcome the weekend I think this is a perfect Friday night combination.
Cazal Viel Rosé from the Saint Chinian appellation is full of invigorating fruit flavours. Its structure is round and mellow yet there is a freshness on the finish.
It’s at its best between 12 and 14oC.
The recipe – for 4 people.
4 large, fresh red mullet (ask your fish monger to fillet them)
12 medium waxy potatoes, peeled.
3 large fennel bulbs
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
A handful of black, stoned olives (optional)
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
½ chopped red chili – or more
A little squeeze of orange juice
Olive oil & seasoning.
Set the oven to 200oC/180oC Fan /Gas 6
Cook the potatoes, whole, in a large pan of boiling, salted water until just tender. Leave to cool.
Chop the fennel into long, thin slices. Take a large pan with a lid. Sauté the fennel and garlic in olive oil with a little salt. The temperature should be low and the lid on. You want the fennel to melt down. It’ll take about 20 minutes.
Slice the potatoes into rounds. In a large oven proof pan fry the potatoes in olive oil and a butter until crispy and golden. If needs be do in batches and transfer to a larger roasting pan brushed with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Scatter over the black olives, if using.
Dry and season the fish well. Place skin side up on the potatoes and roast in the oven for 5 – 8 minutes.
Serve the fish on the potatoes with the melting fennel on the side – which you should spritz with a suggestion of orange juice at the last moment.
Drizzle some olive oil over the dish and scatter your chopped chili and parsley all over.