I have stated before that I am a very lucky man. Last year without even trying I was able to fill my freezer full of beautiful things given to me by friends that wanted to share the riches of their hunts. As I was going through my freezer a few days ago I came across three magnificent rainbow trout that were given to me by my good friend Ben Pena. I had completely forgotten they were in there, as they were buried under a pile of duck sausage that I had made. As soon as I saw them I was was giddy and excited because I remembered instantly what I had planned for them. I love trout in any form I can get it, It is one of the simpler fish to cook. Whenever my brother and I go trout fishing it almost certainly ends with tin foil pouches of trout, lemon, garlic, black pepper and salt on the grill and we are in heaven. I had read a recipe in Michael Ruhlman's book Charcuterie for smoked trout rillettes and have been waiting for an opportunity to try them. Well when opportunity knocks, I answer.
I filleted, boned and skinned all three fish and brined them for six hours. I don't own a real smoker so these were smoked in my stove top Cameron's smoker with alder wood. I have found that if you start them on the stove top and let the smoke build up inside the smoker, then move them to a 180 degree oven for an hour you get a pretty decent hot smoke fish. After letting them cool completely you need to inspect them once more for bones, then shred the meat.
After the meat is shredded you heat butter in a pan and saute minced onions until soft but not brown. Then add the meat, white wine, lemon zest, salt and white pepper and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. The mixture then needs to rest until room temperature. At this point you need to add some chopped chives and stir together with a fork mashing the mixture and breaking up all the big flakes of trout.
At this point you spoon the mixture into ramekins and chill until ready to serve. This batch made a good amount so I only filled one ramekin and put the rest in a container to freeze for later use. I served the rillettes with a nice baguette and some pickled onions and was absolutely pleased as punch with the end result. I was everything I had hoped it would be. Fishy, smokey, buttery happiness. Served with a Beautiful crisp Sauvignon Blanc it made the perfect afternoon snack. (And yes I drink wine with my snacks)
Smoked Trout Rillettes
Based on a recipe from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman
12 oz smoked trout
6 oz unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped chives