A fabulous co-worker of my husband recently sent home some beautiful, freshly-caught trout. Oh, the color! I wish I had taken a photo before any treatment. The scales were beautifully rainbowed (is that a verb?); the flesh was a succulent pink.
I’ve never been one to mess much with whole fish, as the bones kinda scare me. But here I was, with this fabulous product (already gutted, de-headed and finned, and ready to go), and a load of books from school from which to choose a preparation.
I pulled out my Escoffier book, an English translation of the early French chef’s tome on classical cooking. Even in English, it’s hard to read, as it’s not laid out much like a modern cookbook. But I looked up trout, and there it was: Trout a la Meuniere. Simple. Delicious. Let’s go.
- Remove head, guts and fins if necessary. (Yay, I got to skip this.) No need to scale, but wash the fish off gently. Don’t be alarmed by the slimy coating, and don’t scrub it off…it helps with the cooking process.
- Put about 3 tablespoons of unsalted whole or clarified butter in a large skillet or saute pan. Nonstick is nice but not entirely necessary. Melt over medium-high heat.
A note about the butter…it will brown, and if you have the heat too high, it will scorch or worse. So watch the heat, and if you want to try clarifying butter, you don’t have to worry as much about scorching it.
- Salt and pepper the fish, and lightly dip in flour. Tap off most of the flour and place in the hot butter.
- Don’t move the fish for a couple minutes, until browned. Turn once and cook another couple minutes.
- If you’re not versed in judging doneness, use a meat thermometer (I like this one) and remove fish to a platter when it reaches 145 degrees.
- Sprinkle some chopped parsley over the fish and squeeze a lemon over it.
- If your butter is not yet brown, cook it a bit more until it is, then pour over the fish.
A couple notes: The butter amount is for three medium-sized trout in a single pan. My pan was very large, so it could brown without overcrowding. Judge for yourself based on the size of your pan, but I wouldn’t generally cook more than two or three at a time.
Now dig in! We finally figured out that you can lift the entire rib cage out of the fish, which was easier than trying to pick out the bones. Still, watch for any escapees.
Simple, yummy, and fancy. Who knew French cooking could do all that?