Food Magic – Filet of Sole Marguery
Quote for Today: I’ve always said, “If you’re going to make money, you’ve got to look like money.” Diamond Jim Brady
To begin this story one must start with a man born James Buchanan Brady in 1856, a native New Yorker who was a member of an Irish American family on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Brady became known as Diamond Jim during the gilded age of American history for his penchant for jewelry, especially diamonds. When he was done his collection was worth $50 million in today’s dollars.
Working his way up from bell boy to messenger, he gained employment in the New York Central Railroad Company and became chief assistant to the GM at the age of twenty-one. At twenty-three Brady used his knowledge of the railroad industry to become a highly paid salesman for Manning, Maxwell, and Moore then later for the Pressed Steel Car Company. Brady quickly became one of the richest men in America.
Along with his wealth and love of jewelry he also became know for his enormous appetite. It was not unusual for Brady to eat enough food for ten people at one sitting. George Rector, owner of the famous seafood restaurant bearing his name, described Brady as “the best twenty-five customers I’ve ever had.”
A typical Brady breakfast would be eggs, pancakes, pork chops, corn bread, fried potatoes, hominy, muffins, and a beef steak. For refreshment, a gallon of orange juice or “golden nectar” as he called his favorite drink. For lunch, he consumed two lobsters, deviled crabs, clams, Oysters, and beef, with a few pies for dessert. Dinner would double lunch with the addition of Terrapin Soup, a few ducks, and a two pound box of candy. Diamond Jim upon his return from a trip to Paris informed his friend, Charles Rector that the Filet of Sole Marguery that he enjoyed on his journey was so good that if Rector’s couldn’t come up with something to rival it he was going to find another restaurant to patronize.
Charles quickly summoned his son George, forced him to drop out of Cornell Law School and placed him aboard the first ship to Paris. Charles final words to his son were “Come back with the sauce or in it.”
The acquisition of this guarded recipe from chefs in Paris at this time was not an easy task. George was both determined and resourceful, he procured a job at Restaurant Marguery in Paris. First as a dishwasher, then bus boy to waiter, then finally as an apprentice in a kitchen. Finally, after a full year he was able to witness this famous sauce prepared and was on his way home.
Before the gang plank hit the Manhattan docks, George’s welcoming party consisting of his father and Diamond Jim himself were both shouting “Did you get the sauce?” Wasting no time they went straight back to the restaurant where George went to the kitchen to cook and Diamond Jim went to gather up his friends so they could join him for dinner.
Filet of Sole Marguery
The meal was a resounding success. Diamond Jim had six portions himself and proclaimed to young George “This sauce would make a Turkish bath towel edible.” The rest is history. Years later the Rector’s stated “This single dish produced over one million dollars in sales at the original Rector’s and the Restaurant Marguery they built some years later.
Dining – New York City
New York City
The only menu that we’ve seen that listed Filet of Sole Marguery was New York City City’s - Chez Pierre.
Filet of Sole Marguery Recipe
Below is a simplified version of this classic dish to make at home. Chef TJ
• 1 tablespoon shallots, minced fine
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
• 12 white button mushroom caps
• 4 – 6 oz.Dover sole filets(flounder can sub)• Salt to taste
• White pepper to taste
• 1/2cup dry white wine
• 1 cup fish broth or use fish bouillon cube to achieve
• 8 shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• Chopped parsley
Put shallots, mushrooms and 1 T. butter in a large stainless steel pan. Place salted and peppered Dover sole fillets on top; add the wine and fish broth; cover tightly with lid. Adjust heat to low and poach fillets very gently. Continue poaching frequently checking the fish until it is completely cooked, about 6 minutes. Carefully remove the fillets and keep warm. Place the sauté pan with the poaching liquid over high heat; add the heavy cream and reduce by half (about a cup). Turn heat to low, allow the cream to cool down a bit, then add the mussels and shrimp. Cook until the mussels open and the shrimp is firm, about 4-6 minutes. Place 1 fillet onto each warmed plate with 3 mushrooms, 3 mussels and 2 shrimp per serving. Bring sauce back to a boil, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and whisk in the remaining 2 T. butter. Divide sauce evenly over the top of each serving. Garnish with parsley.
Chef TJ & CJ
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