When I found this recipe in Vincent and Mary Price's A Treasury of Great Recipes, I knew it was destined for a write-up on the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers. What better accompaniment to Vincent Price's portrayal of Cardinal Richelieu than a dish of Filets de poisson cardinal? This recipe is a bit involved, but what else would one expect of a recipe from the famed Tour d'Argent? Just give yourself some time and be sure to read the entire recipe before you start. Bonne chance!
Filets de poisson cardinal
5 (4-ounce) white fish filets (sole, flounder, cod, pollock, etc.)
1 egg white
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 tablespoons brandy, divided
6 tablespoons dry vermouth
1 cup court bouillon (see recipe, below)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined, shells and tails removed
1/4 cup tomato purée
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon barley flour
Mince one of the fish filets until it is reduced to a paste. Place in a bowl and beat in the egg white and heavy cream (just use a fork). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.
Warm two plates on your lowest oven setting.
Place 1/4 of the forcemeat mixture on each of the four remaining filets. Roll up then place in a cheesecloth package to keep filling in. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of the brandy, all the vermouth and court bouillon as well as the shallot and parsley to a lidded skillet along with a bit of salt and pepper. Place the fish packages and the shrimp into this liquid. Bring to a boil, cover the skillet, then turn heat down and poach for 10 minutes, or until fish and shrimp are just finished (check early).
Remove plates from oven and place fish (unwrap it) and shrimp on the warmed plates while you make the sauce.
Add tomato purée and chicken stock to poaching liquid and bring to a boil until reduced by 1/2 to 3/4, depending on how thick you want the sauce. Turn heat down to medium and whisk in the final tablespoon of brandy.
In a separate bowl, stir together the butter and flour. Whisk this mixture into the sauce and keep whisking until sauce is smooth and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over the fish and shrimp.
Adapted from "Filets de sole cardinal" in Mary and Vincent Price, A Treasury of Great Recipes (Ampersand Press, 1965), 70.
Fish/shellfish scraps (about enough to fill a gallon-size bag)
1 large onion, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 tablespoon sea salt
small handful whole peppercorns
2 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
3 quarts water
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
Add all ingredients except lemon to large stock pot. Halve the lemon, squeeze the juice into the pot and throw the squeezed-out lemon into the pot, as well.
Bring to a boil, then simmer rather rapidly 20 minutes. Strain.
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts
Adapted from "Court Bouillon" in Edda Meyer-Berkhout, Best of German Cooking (Tucson: HP Books, 1984), 64 and "Fish Stock" in Mary and Vincent Price, A Treasury of Great Recipes (Ampersand Press, 1965), 57.
Lana Turner as Lady de Winter, Vincent Price as Cardinal Richelieu and Gene Kelly as D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers (1948). Stills from Doctor Macro.
While more than a bit silly, I quite enjoyed the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers. Yes, June Allyson annoys the bejeezus out of me, but the rest of the cast works well. Lana Turner is stunning as Lady de Winter, Gene Kelly is likeable as D'Artagnan, Vincent Price is a natural as Cardinal Richelieu and Angela Lansbury makes a lovely Queen Anne. All in all, The Three Musketeers is a good way to spend a couple of hours. The technicolor is vivid, the costumes are great and it's just a lot of fun.
Angela Lansbury in publicity shots for The Three Musketeers (from TCM).