How to grill whole trout, stuffed with lemon, dill, and dotted with butter. Easy!
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
I once was the proud owner of a fly reel.
Just the reel mind you. I was 10 years old and I never did get a fishing rod for that reel. The fishing rod I did have came with its own reel, and was the type with which you used a little bobbing float, and a hook to attach something wriggly.
Hapless in the fishing department, I eventually gifted my gear to my younger brother, and stuck to collecting crawdads, tadpoles, and minnows.
Over the years my brother regularly brought home trout (usually steelhead), salmon, and assorted other fish he caught in the American River, a short walk from our house in Sacramento.
It was only years later, on a trip to western Montana, that I learned that a fly reel is what is used in fly fishing, which is how one fishes for trout.
So now, every time I pass by the fish counter at the market and see beautiful fresh trout staring back at me, I think of fly fishermen, standing in their waders in the shallows of either the Madison or American rivers, casting for a bite.
Trout is, one of the most delicious fish you can eat, and not only is it relatively inexpensive (for fish), it’s really easy to cook. It’s usually sold deboned, and with head and tail.
Trout does have rather delicate skin.
So rather than grilling it directly on the grill grates, the best way to ensure that the fish holds together and results in a beautiful presentation, is to create an aluminum “boat” to hold the fish, and place that boat on the grill. Keep the boat open, and cover the grill so that the trout absorbs some of the smokiness from the grill.
Grilled Trout with Dill and Lemon Recipe
Assume one trout per person.
These directions are for grilling trout. If you don't have a grill, you can easily prepare the fish in an aluminum boat in the same way and bake in the oven at 350°F until done.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 trout, boned (also called "butterflied") and cleaned, head and tail still on (or headless if you want)
- 6 paper thin slices of fresh lemon, seeded
- Several sprigs of dill (or basil, tarragon, parsley, any tender fresh herb)
- 1 teaspoon butter, cut into small cubes
1 Prepare your grill for direct high heat, with one part of the grill cool.
2 Make aluminum "boats" for the fish: While the grill is heating, make one or two "boats" with heavy duty aluminum foil. Double or triple layer the foil and make 1-inch rim around the edges.
Coat the bottom of the boat generously with olive oil so that the trout does not stick while it is cooking.
3 Prep the trout: Rinse the trout with water and pat them dry. Open up the fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add lemon slices to the inside of the fish in a single layer. Top with sprigs of dill and dots of butter. Close the fish over the stuffing. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil. Place fish in the aluminum foil boat(s).
4 Grill the trout: Place fish boats on the hot side of the grill. Cover and let cook for 3 minutes. The oil and the juice from the fish will get bubbly.
Move to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for 3-5 more minutes, until the fish are just cooked through. You can peek inside the fish for doneness. Once opaque, the fish should be removed from the grill.
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