Parmesan-Crusted Flounder

Handle with care. Flounder is delicate, but this easy recipe requires no magic tricks. Seven minutes in a hot oven is enough to transform it into a company-worthy dish. The secret’s in the crust—a thin coating of mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and diced shallots covered with Parmesan and breadcrumbs. P.S. You must make your own breadcrumbs, as store-bought will simply not pass muster.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 cups homemade breadcrumbs (see box)
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
6-8 skinless flounder fillets (about 4-6 ounces each)
¼ cup minced parsley
¾ cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s is fine)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs minced shallots
Salt and pepper

Extra: 1 oz softened butter to grease baking sheet

Gently heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet. Add breadcrumbs and cook on low heat while stirring constantly until crumbs turn light golden brown. Remove to a bowl. When cool, stir in the Parmesan and chopped parsley. Add salt to taste and a couple of grinds of pepper.
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and shallots. Heat the oven to 440 degrees. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread with the softened butter. Pat the flounder fillets dry with paper towels and place on the baking sheet. Spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture over the top of the fish. Cover with a layer of breadcrumbs and gently pat into the mayonnaise . When all fillets are coated, place baking sheet in the middle shelf of oven and bake for 7 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and maybe a sautéed spring green such as spinach.

Oh, Crumbs

Sourdough boule or an Italian loaf are best, ideally a day or two old but not stale. Tear the bread into small pieces, spread on a heavy baking sheet, and toast in a 350-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Do not let crumbs start to brown. Cool the bread and place in the food processor and pulse to medium coarse (not fine) crumbs. Store excess crumbs in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or freeze them.

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