TROUT, CORNMEAL FRIED TROUT WITH BACON AND SAGE
Cooking with Shelburne Farms
There's nothing like trout fried in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with some bacon fat. The honey-sage butter is a little different; it adds a lightly sweet, woodsy note to the fish and balances the salty bacon.
Before You Start
The baking powder whisked in with the cornmeal gives the fish a crisp coat—a tip from an old Vermont cookbook. We are lucky to have locally grown and ground heirloom flint corn. Look for stone-ground cornmeal in natural foods stores and in the baking aisle of some supermarkets; fine cornmeal works too, but won't deliver quite the same crunch.
• 16 large fresh sage leaves
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 3/4 cup yellow or white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
• 1½ teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons water
• 4 brook or rainbow trout fillets (6-8 ounces each)
• 6 pieces thick-cut bacon (about 6 ounces)
1. Finely chop four of the sage leaves and mix with 1 tablespoon of the butter and the honey in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Pour the cornmeal into a shallow, rimmed plate or pie pan and whisk in the baking powder, the salt, and a few grinds of pepper. In a second similar plate or pan, whisk the egg white with the water. Pat the trout dry and dip both sides of each fillet into the egg white mixture and then the cornmeal mixture to coat.
3. In a large saute pan, or preferably a cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and then set it aside on paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and reserve. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet. Heat over medium-high until the fat is sizzling.
4. Add the fish to the skillet, two fillets at a time, and fry until crisp, about 4 minutes on each side. As the fish comes hot out of the pan, scoop a little honey-sage butter onto each fillet so it melts into the hot crust. Cover the first batch loosely with foil while finishing the second batch.
5. Add a little more bacon fat and the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and fry the remaining fillets along with the remaining whole sage leaves, which should take just 1 minute to crisp and can be removed while the fillets finish cooking. Serve the trout topped with the fried sage leaves and crumbled bacon.