Matelote of Eel

3:10 pm on 12 August 2011


  • 700 g eel fillets
  • 2 Tbsp cognac
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 50 g butter
  • 75 g thinly sliced streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into slivers
  • 12 pickling onions, peeled
  • 12 button mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, (peeled and chopped)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 heaped tsp flour
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 heaped Tbsp chopped parsley

Red Wine Reduction

  • 750 ml red wine
  • 1 tsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, un-peeled and bruised with the back of a knife
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf


Place the eel in a dish with the cognac and vinegar and leave to marinate for 6 hours or overnight.

Put wine reduction ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil.

Ignite the wine with a match and allow the flames to subside. Turn down to a simmer and cook gently for about 30 minutes until almost reduced by half. Strain into a bowl through a fine sieve and reserve. Melt 25g of the given butter in a wide deep pan and fry the bacon until coloured. Remove, set aside and add the onions and mushrooms. Cook until golden and just tender, stir in the garlic and re-introduce the bacon. Pour over the flavoured wine, slip in the eel together with it's marinade and season. Allow to simmer very gently for 20 minutes or so.

Lift out the solids, put into a warmed dish and keep hot, covered, in a low oven.

Mix the remaining 25g of butter and the teaspoon of flour to a paste, and incorporate into the sauce with the aid of a whisk, until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes to cook out the flour, and then stir in the lemon juice.

Pour over the eel and sprinkle with the parsley.

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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