(from the oven, skin partially pulled back to accept some grated horseradish)
I don’t know why I haven’t prepared fresh trout in such a long time, unless I was just waiting to teach myself how to butterfly them, in order to solve the potential bone problem (I haven’t learned yet). M any cooks disdain trout unless it is caught wild, and probably for a good reason an indifferent product, with little taste. I don’t have that excuse however: We have access to a wonderful source in Dave Harris, who owns Max Creek Hatchery in East Meredith, way upstate, near Oneonta, and he basically pulls into our backyard once a week (well, into the Union Square Greenmarket, which I do consider our greater backyard).
We began the meal with a small crudité, served on the kitchen counter by the breadbox.
- a few French small French breakfast radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm, scrubbed and trimmed, but with a portion of stem left on [almost] all of them, to make it easier for dipping into a small dish of Maldon salt
This is what the trout looked like just before they went into the oven, with eyes shining and rainbows still glowing.
- two very, very fresh whole rainbow trout from Max Creek Hatchery, gutted and cleaned, placed inside an oiled tin-lined copper au gratin pan, seasoned inside and out with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, the cavities stuffed with sprigs of herbs (thyme from Stokes Farm and parsley from Norwich Meadows Farm) and lined with thin slices of one organic Whole Foods Market lemon, then drizzled with a little more olive oil, and roasted for about for 15 or 20 mins, or until the fish is cooked through (the eyes turn white and the flesh becomes soft to the touch), removed from the oven, the skin on the top side of each pulled back and fresh horseradish root from Gorzynski Ornery Farm grated on top before serving, with additional horseradish placed on the table
- the greens from 2 bunches of French Breakfast radishes (a few of which we had just nibbled on) which had been removed from their roots, to better preserve both roots and leaves, the moment they had arrived from the Greenmarket this week, barely wilted inside a medium-size heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pan in a little olive oil in which one bruised and halved Rocambole garlic clove from Keith’s Farm had first been allowed to sweat and just begin to color, the greens seasoned with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, a very small part of one crushed dried dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia, arranged on the plates with a little more olive oil drizzled on top
- tiny ‘Red Gold’ potatoes from Keith’s Farm, scrubbed, skins left on, boiled inside a large vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, dried in the same container while it and they were still-warm, tossed with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and chopped lovage from Keith’s Farm
- the wine throughout the meal was a German (Rheinhessen) sparkling white, Fritz Müller Perlwein
- the music was the album, ‘El Maestro Farinelli’, instrumental and vocal music associated with Farinelli, including compositions by Nicola Conforto, José Nebra, Nicolo Porpora, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, Francesco Corradini, Juan Marcolini, Niccolò Jommelli, and Tommaso Traetta, with Countertenor Bejun Mehta, and Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Concerto Cologne