Fishing is always at the top of the agenda when we visit my parents in Colorado. In years past my boy has demonstrated mastery of the Scooby-Doo rod, so this time out he insisted on a flyrod. I had visions of tangled line, a bird nest leader, and tears, but instead Riley threw a tight loop with his two-handed grip and effortlessly put a black woolly-bugger fly in the strike zone. The result: a beautiful brookie destined for the oven (not the ginormous rainbow in the photo at left, which was released unharmed).
Usually we pan-fry our trout. But with a haul of wild mushrooms gathered on a hike in the Gore Range the previous day, including oyster mushrooms and aspen boletes (known to locals as orange-caps), we decided a stuffed baked trout was the way to go.
A word about aspen boletes (Leccinum insigne): Most books and web sites list this species as edible. Coloradans regularly eat this common variety of porcini. However, the Colorado Mycological Society recommends caution. Every year the Rocky Mountain Poison Center receives complaints of gastro-intestinal distress following the ingestion of orange-caps, with some cases requiring hospitalization. In the Northwest there are similar complaints that derive from the consumption of Leccinum aurantiacum. I've talked to a mycologist who believes that a small percentage of the population at large—maybe just a few percent—is allergic to the genus Leccinum in general. Most people seem to eat these mushrooms without difficulty, and indeed, immigrants from mushroom-hunting cultures (e.g., Eastern Europeans) eat them with abandon. As with any new species of edible wild mushroom, it's recommended that you nibble on just a little bit (cooked of course) to make sure you're not allergic.
To make this recipe I had to de-bone my first trout, a technique I had never attempted because it's easier to remove the backbone and ribs after the fish is cooked. But a trout that has been fully de-boned and butterflied before cooking makes an elegant presentation, and a stuffed trout in particular begs for butterflying. I found this helpful YouTube video and then got to work.
For the recipe I used this one, and as you can see, even brazenly lifted the photographic composition. Note that I've changed the amounts to suit my tastes (more mushrooms, for instanse, and the addition of parsley) and instead of serving 8, my version is for 2.
2 pan-sized trouts, butterflied
2 pieces bacon
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 heaping tbsp parsley, chopped
1 slice bread, toasted and crumbled
lemon for juice and garnish
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon and remove from pan when crispy. Crumble bacon into a bowl. Saute onion in bacon fat a couple minutes over medium heat, then add mushrooms and cook for another four or five minutes, making sure mushrooms expel their moisture. Add thyme and cook for one more minute. Spoon onion-mushroom mixture into bowl with bacon and add bread crumbs. Mix together. Squeeze lemon juice over butterflied trouts and season with salt and pepper. Spread half the stuffing onto lower half of one trout; repeat with other trout. Fold over each trout like a sandwich and secure with toothpicks. Place on greased foil in a broiling pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Last time I saw the folks I cooked them Bourbon & Pecan Encrusted Trout. That was tasty, but the Stuffed Trout, we all agreed, was extra special. I'll be serving this to friends back in Seattle for sure.