Eel does not very often appear on our menus, and it is a pity, for it can be prepared in many delectable ways, the best of which, I think, is en Matelote. Eels, by the way, were extremely popular in England a few centuries ago, and all the old cookery books give numerous recipes of how " to dress " them.
A medium-sized eel, 1 large onion, a few carrots, a little garlic (optional), 1 stick of celery, a bouquet of mixed herbs, 1 or 2 bay leaves, 1 lb. of pickling onions, 1/2 a lb. of mushrooms, 1 glass of red wine, butter, salt and pepper.
Skin and clean the eel, cut it in lengths of about 2 inches and soak it in cold water, with a little salt, for 15 minutes. Then put it in a saucepan with a few sliced carrots and a sliced onion, the garlic, celery, and herbs. Season highly and just cover with water and the red wine. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the pickling onions by browning them in butter, and cook the mushrooms, which should be halved or quartered, similarly.
When the fish is done, remove the pieces from the saucepan, leaving, however, the gravy in the saucepan. Now add to this a carefully made roux, made with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 of butter, which should be quite brown and smooth. Let all this boil once and then strain it. Put the fish back in the saucepan, add the mushrooms and onions, pour the gravy over and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with croutons. Time: About 1 hour.