Roasted whole brill with thyme

Roasted whole brill with thyme

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
bunch thyme
5-6 bay leaves
1 large lemon
1 brill, about 1.5–1.75 kg
100ml extra virgin olive oil
75ml white wine
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 220°C. Sprinkle half the thyme, the bay leaves and some salt and pepper in a shallow roasting tin. Slice the lemon and add half the slices to the tin.
  2. Prepare the fish for cooking whole (see note). Tuck the remaining thyme and lemon slices in the cavity. Make an incision along the top of the edge of the fillet where it joins the frill. Lay the fish on top of the thyme, bay and lemon and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the skin. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast in the top third of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the fish and check; the flesh should just be starting to come away from the bone, just behind the head.
  4. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and the wine over the fish and return to the oven for 5–10 minutes. The skin should lift away from the flesh and the flesh should be coming away easily from the bone just behind the head. (If preferred, the fish can be placed under a hot grill for this last 5–10 minutes to crisp and brown the skin.)
  5. Carefully lift the fish onto a serving platter and pour over the juices from the tin.
  6. To serve, cut down the middle of the back to the bone, then release the fillets from the bones on both sides. Slide a fish slice under the fillets and lift off, then pull the bone from the bottom fillets, divide and serve.


  • If you prefer a more natural finish, don’t cut along the edge of the fillet by the frill, so allowing the skin to shrink and crack during the cooking.

    To prepare the fish, rinse under cold water, dry with kitchen paper and place on a board. Remove the gills. Check the cavity for guts and roe. More often than not, flat fish will already have been gutted, but if not, make an incision behind the gills. Pull the guts and roe out of the belly; make an incision along the edge of the fillet on the join with the frill to release them if necessary. Rinse the fish under cold water again and dry.


  • Any large flat fish, such as turbot or halibut, can be used and the thyme can be replaced with rosemary or tarragon.

    Whole roast brill with tomatoes and capers: Place 5–6 vines of small tomatoes around the fish in the roasting tin. Sprinkle over 1–2 tablespoons very small rinsed capers and proceed as for the main recipe.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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