Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The trout, the whole trout & nothing but the trout.

Not everything in my kitchen comes out of the pasture, especially around this time of the year. Last Saturday was the opening day of Trout Season here in Pennsylvania--considered a holy day, right up there with the first day of Buck Season. And if it's one thing the Miller family likes to do, it's fishing.

When the April Challenge for Charcutepalooza--The Year of Meat was announced last month, Hot Smoking was the gig. It was either a pork shoulder or salmon. However, when my friend & fellow tech writer turned food blogger, Christine, turned me on to the Year of Meat I was bound & determined to use the meat I raised myself for as many of the challenges as possible.

But I don't raise pigs and I don't farm salmon. It's been over ten years since I've bounced the ball for salmon and even then, all I caught was mackerel. Then it dawned me...trout belong to the same family as salmon! Trout season & the April Challenge were about to collide.

My dad & brother fishing Mountain Creek in Mount Holly Springs on opening day of Trout Season.
A Brook Trout and two Brown Trout that Dad caught.
In keeping with my vow to provide my own meat for the Challenges, I caught my own fish. And yes, I even bait my own hook!

My dad is a master when it comes to filleting trout, but for smoking I prefer to just gut the trout and leave the rest of the fish intact including the head & tail. I started with three varieties--Brook, Brown and Rainbow--all around 12 inches. The fish were brined in a simple solution of Kosher salt with a touch of maple syrup for about an hour, rinsed and then laid out to dry.

Into the smoker they went. I used apple wood for the smoke.
Peaches, my goat herd matriarch cruises the front yard nibbling on the choice spring grasses while the smoking commenced.About two hours into the smoking I took a peek while reloading the apple wood.
Four hours later, the trout are a deep caramel color.
The warm flesh was sweet, succulent and permeated with a smoky oiliness lighter than what salmon would have offered. And the best part...the tail! It was like a smoked fish potato chip.