The weekly dish – Bacon Wrapped Trout with Creamy Polenta & Wilted Arugula
For the Polenta – In a medium sized pot take 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of heavy cream (you can use milk instead of cream if you want but I think cream works better) bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Now if you can’t do two things at once this is a great opportunity to get Pat into the mix. One of you stir the liquid briskly with a WHISK and the other SLOWLY pours in 1 cup of polenta (yellow or white is fine). You CANNOT just dump the polenta in the liquid, it will clump and turnout really shitty! Reduce the heat to low, continue cooking and whisking constantly for about 10 minutes until the liquid is completely absorbed. If it gets too thick like wet sand, add a bit more cream and stir it in. Next take ½ cup/4oz of plain cherve goat cheese and 2-4 tablespoons of butter and gently stir both into the polenta still on low heat. NOW TASTE IT – DOES IT NEED SALT? When you’re done the polenta should have a MOLTEN HOT LAVA consistency, not too runny not too firm.
I love trout, but I hate bones. So it is important to buy deboned filets from your local market, these will have the head, tail, and spine removed. A trout filet consists of both sides of the fish still attached to each other. You’ll want to get 2 pieces of fish for you and Pat. You’ll also want to pick up some quality bacon from the meat department. I prefer apple wood smoked bacon (yes I spent a lot of time in Texas where if you fry it or wrap it in bacon you get double bonus points). Pick up some quality Dijon mustard and FRESH thyme (there is no reason to use dried herbs anymore by the way – they’re just sub-par).
Okay, so lay your filets out skin side down. Now slather your mustard onto the flesh, be generous but not excessive with the mustard. Pick the leaves off the thyme and lightly chop. Sprinkle about a teaspoon or so onto one side of the filets. Next sprinkle a bit of Slavo Salt onto the filets as well. You want to be thoughtful of how much thyme and seasoning you use because in the next step you will fold the filets so that the flesh sides are together and if you use too much herbage and seasoning you’ll overpower the flavor of the fish.
Next take 3 pieces of bacon and lay them out in front of you spaced about an inch apart going in the same direction. Take your trout filet and lay it across the bacon in the opposite direction as the bacon (think picket fence). Now wrap the pieces of bacon around the fish so they overlap each other by at least a couple inches and trim the excess bacon off. So when you’re done, the trout will have 3 vertical bacon racing stripes like the laces on a football. Got it?
Time to cook your fish! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and it is important you have a fry pan that can be put into an oven. This type of pan is much more common these days, typically they have a metal handle not plastic. If you don’t have a good quality fry pan, buy one. This is as essential to your kitchen as a good knife!
Okay, get your pan on the stove over medium-high heat, once the pan gets hot add about 1-2 tablespoons of Grapeseed oil. Now lay the trout filets “bacon fold side” down into the pan. Don’t shake or move the fish around just let them be don’t screw with it – allow the bacon to cook (about 4 minutes or so)! After a few minutes the bacon will start crisping up and “release” from the pan, this is when you want to GENTLY flip the filets over with a spatula. Don’t burn the bacon, if it starts getting dark and crispy you’ve accomplished the goal and it’s ready to flip over! Again let the fish cook, don’t mess with it! After about 2 minutes, pop the entire pan into your preheated oven for about 5 minutes, then remove from the oven. THE HANDLE OF THE PAN IS GOING TO BE HOT AS HELL – USE A DRY TOWEL OR OVEN-MITT TO REMOVE. Just let the fish sit in the pan while you are getting the rest of your dish together, unless the bacon is starting to burn. If that’s the case then get those babies outta there!
Lastly, get another fry pan out and drop half of a thinly sliced red or yellow onion in w/ butter over medium-high heat. After a couple minutes throw in some baby arugula (use twice what you think you’ll need because it’ll cook down into nothing practically). Flip and stir the pan around until the arugula begins to wilt. At this point toss in some Slavo Salt and remove from the heat.
On your plates spoon a nice blob of polenta in the center, lay the trout filet over the center of the polenta and then make a neat little pile of the wilted arugula on top of the fish. Presentation is key, Pat will be impressed w/ your skills and then it’s game on baby!!!
For this I’d suggest a light red wine like a Pinot or Merlot and make it a couple bottles in case your conversation skills are worse than your cooking.
Remember if it doesn’t turnout perfect that’s cool man, “A” for effort!