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Poisson de Rivière au Beurre Blanc (River Fish with Butter Sauce)

This quick, iconic sauce originated in the Loire Valley, where it’s commonly served with the local river fish: perch, pike and zander, also called “pike perch” (though it’s neither pike nor perch). The small amount of cream helps ensure the sauce doesn’t break.


4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots
1 tablespoon heavy cream
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, plus 2 additional tablespoons
4 skin-on zander fillets (can substitute walleye, branzino or brook trout)


To start sauce, boil wine, vinegar and shallots in saucepan or small skillet until liquid is almost evaporated. Add cream. Boil 1 minute to reduce slightly. (This may be done up to three days ahead. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish, skin-side down, in single layer. Cook until skin is crisp and brown, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Flip fish, and cook about 2 minutes, or until the flesh flakes easily with fork and is opaque throughout.

To finish sauce, remove saucepan from heat and whisk in remaining butter little by little. If necessary, place pan over low heat to barely melt butter (if the sauce gets too hot, it will separate). Salt to taste. To serve, plate the fish and lightly drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Pair It

Château de Chamboureau 2012 Domaine FL La Croix Picot

While a Muscadet would pair nicely with this ever-popular dish, a dry Chenin Blanc will really shine. With its nutty character and intense acidity, this style of wine cuts right through the rich beurre blanc and comes up dancing.

The finest dry Chenin Blanc comes from Savennières in Anjou. These wines are typically bone dry and long-lasting (up to 20 years) although they can also be enjoyed younger. Seek out Château de Chamboureau’s 2012 Domaine FL La Croix Picot for a perfect match.