After reading the title of this post, are you all channeling Judy Garland singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow ..."? Or perhaps humming a tribute to the late Hawaiian gentle giant, Iz Kamakawiwo'ole, with his version of the same song? Tonight, I hummed the latter version, as I tried to figure out how to prepare the main attraction: freshly caught, right off the hook, Rainbow Trout!
This isn't just any trout, folks. These beauties were reeled in by my son and hubbyman. Is this significant? Oh yeah. This was the first time .. the very first time ... my son went fishing. With his dad, no less. My guys came home bearing 8 trout that they gutted and cleaned themselves.
There was a fisherwoman at the lake that told my husband to cook the trout "whole style" rather than fillet them. Hmm. Fisherwoman assured him that after they were cooked, all we needed to do was just tug on the tail and fins, and all the bones would just slide right out. Uh huh. Note to self. Be wary of strange fisherwomen giving boning advice.
Anyway, after hearing this, I was faced with a dilema. I realized that I had not ever prepared a whole rainbow trout before. Oh I've made trout, but they were tidy boned fillets that were floured and fried. That's not an option, here, as my littlest trout can't do wheat. Sooooo ... what to do, what to do?
I remembered reading about how pioneers would grill whole trout with bacon and onions, so I figured that would be a good starting point. But how to do it? Ta Da! I thought about how my friend Marjie has prepared meals "en papillote", and thought the process would apply here using foil on the grill.
Here's what I came up with.
8 Whole Rainbow Trout, cleaned, gutted, heads removed
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1 onion - sliced medium sliver style
1 lb Hickory Bacon
Foil - about 4 inches longer than the fish.
Heat grill to high. Rinse Trout and pat dry. Rub olive oil on outside of fish. Season liberally with all the seasonings. Take a small handful of onion slivers, and tuck them in the fish cavity. Using two slices of bacon, wrap up the fish and set it in the middle of the foil.
Fold the ends over the tail and ... what's the end called where the head used to be? Fold it over that end. Then gather up the remaining two sides and fold over and crimp together to form a closed bundle.
Place trout bundles on the grill, close the lid and cook on high (500 degrees F) for 25 minutes. Yep, that's 25 minutes. This is a whole fish with bacon. Cook away, my friends. Remove the bundles from the grill, and let sit for 5 minutes. Carefully open the pouches; the steam will be HOT.
All was going well up to this point. The fish looked and smelled divine. Doesn't this look goooood? The aroma was marvelous, simply marvelous. I snuck a nibble. Oh. Lordy. Mild, smokey, creamy ... it literally melted in my mouth. The bacon cooked up like a Virginia Style Ham. I think I made a yummy noise. I'm pretty sure I did.
Then (da da da duum) disappointment struck. Oh fisherwoman, your attention, please! The bones do not just pull out as you assured they would. Nope. In fact, the fish was so tender that when you pulled on the tail, it just popped right off. *SIGH*
I was not a happy camper. I was faced with 8 fishes that needed to be deboned by hand after cooking. Small bones. Lots of small bones. Plus, my fisher people were hungry. *Double sigh* I was not about to let my son's first catch become a flop, so I set out to de-bone the little buggers. Fifteen minutes later ...
I was glad I did. While the fish were no longer "pretty" in their tidy bundles, the aroma and flavor was "Oh My Gosh" outstanding. The hickory smoke from the bacon infused the fish, and the onion was surprisingly subtle. That Montreal Steak Seasoning should be called Montreal Everything Seasoning. I'm using that delightful little shaker more and more, and it performed brilliantly on the fish.
So, next time my fishermen bring home their bounty, I'll be ready with the bacon. And the Montreal Seasoning. And a boning knife. In the meantime, my friends, be wary of the shady bone-advice-giving fisherwoman.
I'm off to hum again. Somewhere over the rainbow ....