The more fresh meats I try, the more of a meat snob I become. Last spring, it was freshly butchered chicken. This time, it’s fresh-caught fish.
No, I don’t fish… but I am lucky enough to have recently made the acquaintance of a certain avid fisherman. For as long as I’ve known him he’s never come back from a fishing trip with out a catch, and his passion for the sport is contagious, even to Ms. Nail-Polish-and-High-Heels here at Burghilicious. And if I was already slightly excited just from discussion, the resultant FOOD certainly pushed me over the edge. These little guys, one brown trout (Mr. Spots there at the
front) and one rainbow, came out of the Laurel Highlands on Thursday
Mr. Master Fisherman, the Beast of Bait and the Scourge of the Youghigheny, vouches for baking the trout with the stuffing below, but this time he went with grilling on a cedar plank. The plank method has several benefits: the fish are protected from the direct heat of the coals – and because of this, the fish can stay in the smoke longer and absorb more flavors from the smoke and the stuffing, turning an amazing orange-brown color in the process. (See the before and after below!) FYI, the plank also conveniently keeps the stuffing from falling into the fire.
And the result? In a word, trouty: the essence of this particular species, infused with dense cornbread, heady aromatics and distinctive hickory smoke – and not a hint of that fishiness that some people find distasteful. We served the fish with a creamy cauliflower dish and a seasonal salad of local lettuce, radishes and strawberries. The fish flaked off the bones textbook style, and each fish yielded a perfect cartoon fish skeleton by the end.
Now that I’ve got the trout connection, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back to the frozen stuff, marking yet another food that I can’t go back on (scallops, tuna, chicken, now trout…) I highly suggest finding a fisherman to provide your trout. And no, I’m not sharing. Find your own.
Grilled Stuffed Trout on a Cedar Plank for Two
Scheidt’s original recipe
Hickory or other tasty wood chips for smoking
Cedar plank/planks large enough to hold fish
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Small bunch fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1/2 pound mixed mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 pound cornbread, crumbled*
2 whole trout, preferably fresh caught, cleaned and gutted
Prepare the grill: Soak the cedar plank(s) and wood chips in water for at least an hour. Light the grill, and once the charcoal has ashed over, sprinkle the chips over the coals. Keep the lid on the grill, and keep the vent only 25% open so the smoke builds up inside the grill.
While the grill is heating up, prepare the stuffing: Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, pepper, garlic and mushrooms until onion is translucent. Put the crumbled cornbread in a large bowl. Add melted butter, thyme leaves, and sautéed veggie mixture and mix until combined – use your hands if you want! Season with salt and pepper.
Season inside of fish with salt and pepper. Fill fish with stuffing.* Put fish on cedar planks, then put cedar planks on grate over prepared coals. Cover and cook fish for 20-30 minutes, until stuffing is cooked through. Serve immediately.
*Depending on the size of your fishes, you might have leftovers. It’s totally acceptable to eat it with your hands.