Do you ever become the victim of a dramatic magazine photo and a beguiling recipe?
I consider finding a show-stopper a challenge so I have a throw-down between the magazine and me! Usually with good results.
The beguiling recipe called for butterflied boned trout. In visiting two markets, I found whole trout, heads and tails intact, and not boned. The other choice was flat filets. I thought and asked myself, how hard could it be?
I didn’t know what to do with the heads and tails at home, so my fishmonger removed them for me. He’s better equipped to dispose of trimmings like that than I.
I took the trout home and searched for a boning video. YouTube has several and all are pretty much the same. It was helpful to watch the video chef make a slice on either side of the spine and gently cut under it to remove it from head end to tail end.
She then carefully slipped her knife under the rib bones and cut a paper thin slice of flesh under them and carefully used the blade of the knife to lift them out. Kitchen tweezers helped remove a few pin bones that were left. That maneuver was repeated on the other side.
I was able to remove the spine just fine, but the rib bones were a little more challenging. The were removed, but not as quickly or gracefully as the TV chef did hers.
The charred tomato vinaigrette and the stuffing took some prep time, but were worth it for the flavor. I learned one lesson from charing the tomatoes. I thought I’d loosened the fond from the pan with a splash of water and add it to the blender. It turned my vinaigrette brown instead of pink like the original recipe’s. Ah, well, lessons learned.
The experience with boning fish was a good lesson. I’ll be prepared if I ever want to stuff a fish again. the stuffing is bright and colorful and just might appear as a side dish one day. I will have to make the tomato vinaigrette again just to get the color right.
FYI, I only prepared two trout and it was not difficult to halve the recipe.
Chard-Stuffed Trout with Charred Tomato Vinaigrette
2 large tomatoes, cut into ½ inch slices
¼ cup fresh flat-leaved parsley leaves
2 Tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
6 Tbsp. oilive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely divided
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
Heat a large cast-iron pan or grill pan over high heat.
Add tomato slices to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side until well charred.
Place tomatoes in a blender. Add parsley, capers, ¼ cup olive oil, rosemary, juice, vinegar, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin stripps
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch chard, leaves and top portions of stems thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to pan. Add bell peppers, shallot, and sliced garlic cloves; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add chard; sauté 2 minutes or until chard is just wilted. Remove from heat, stir in chopped basil.
The Trout and Assembly
4 (6 oz.) butterflied boneless trout, heads and tails removed
¼ up pitted Niçoise olives
5 thyme springs
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spread tomato mixture in a bottom of a 9X13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle olives over mixture and arrange thyme sprigs over mixture.
Sprinkle trout inside and out evenly with ¼ tsp. salt and1’2 tsp pepper. Place about ½ cup stuffing in each butterflied trout and fold halves back together. Reserve a little stuffing for garnish when plating.
Heat remaining Tbsp olive oil in large non-stick pan. Add 2 stuffed trout to pan; cook 2 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Turn trout over and cook another 2 minutes until skin is golden brown. Place browned trout on mixture in baking dish. Repeat browning on remaining two stuffed fish. Place baking dish in oven and bake at 400° for 12 minutes until trout is just cooked through.