Pan-fried skate with apples and cider

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This may seem an odd combination, but the classic fish and poultry garnish à la Normande - meaning with apples and sometimes Calvados and cream, all of which Normandy is famous for - was once commonplace on restaurant menus. Skate lends itself to both robust and delicate flavours and the use of cider instead of wine in a creamy fish sauce gives it a new dimension. With this dish, you could even poach your skate wings in cider first.

4 skate wings weighing about 250g each, skinned and trimmed
Flour for dusting
1tbsp vegetable oil
60g butter for the sauce

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
60g butter
100ml fish stock, or half a stock cube dissolved in that amount of water
100ml dry cider
150ml double cream
1 not too sweet apple, such as Cox's, peeled, cored and finely diced
1/2tbsp chopped parsley

Season and lightly flour the skate wings. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan (you may need to do this in 2 pans, or 2 batches) and fry the skate for 3-4 minutes on each side, adding butter to the pan towards the end of cooking. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, gently cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes in butter, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and cider and simmer until reduced to about a tablespoonful. Add the double cream and simmer until reduced by about half and thickened. Add the apples and parsley and simmer for a minute or so, then whisk in the butter and season. Serve the sauce separately, or poured over the fish, and with buttery mash.