Like many of my posts this one starts out with a gift. I guy a work with sent me a text and asked if I would like any lake trout. Of course I did, what kind of silly question was that. I don't catch a lot of lake trout and the only ones that I have caught have been in the Boundary Water Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. That is also the only place I have ever eaten Lake trout. When in the BWCA we usually fry them like any other fish but we have roasted a few and mixed them into a risotto and one year made a very nice Parmesan crusted trout. Other than that I don't get any and never have had any at home that I could smoke. I have heard wonderful things about smoked lake trout and have always wanted to try doing it myself.
After the fillets were delivered I started searching for smoked lake trout recipes and oddly enough the first one I came to was from Hank Shaw. If you are ever in need of a recipe for wild game there is a pretty good chance Hank has what you are looking for. Hank's trout recipe is very easy and doesn't require a whole lot, its just salt, orange zest and spruce tips. I am not yet very knowledgeable about spruce tips so I took hanks recommendation and used rosemary instead. I also added a half cup of maple sugar to the salt mix to add hint of sweetness.
I have a really cheap and useless smoker and most days I can't keep it under 225 degrees but on the day I smoked I was lucky and the outside temp was -4 so that kept the temp of the smoker down around 175 which was perfect. I smoked over Apple wood and got exactly the light application of smoke I was looking for. I didn't want to over smoke the fish and lose any of the great natural flavor the trout has. I ended up leaving the fillets on for about 5 hours and the end product was about as good as it gets. I had a party last Saturday and just poured everybody some Blanton's and left a bunch of forks out and we ate it right off the board. It was perfect!
Smoked Lake Trout
This is enough cure mixture for four good sized fillets
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup maple sugar
zest from one orange
5 sprigs of rosemary
mix together the salt cure and rub it into the fillets and let stand in the fridge for 4-5 hours. Then rinse off all the cure mixture and let the fillets sit in front of a fan for about an hour until the fillets are tacky to the touch. After that smoke the fillets over what ever wood you prefer, I like apple. Smoke at 175 degrees for 4-5 hours. (depending on how cold it is outside)