So, you just went out and caught a mess of trout. Now what? Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, that’s what!??Smoked trout and landlocked salmon is a fantastic treat and making up a batch is super easy to do.
To find out how to do it right, I went straight to the Big Enchilada of fish and game cooking: TV personality and cook book author, Scott “The Sporting Chef” Leysath.??The Sporting Chef told me that the first key to getting good results is to make sure your catch is bled and kept on ice until you get home. Don’t drag your trout around all day on a stringer in 70-degree water unless you’re an aficionado of mushy, fishy-tasting fish.??“Obviously, you can’t fillet a 12-inch fish, so go ahead and gut your trout,” he says. “Leave the heads on or cut them off – it really doesn’t matter. You can try to remove the skin, but most people just end up wasting too much meat that way. It comes off much more easily after the fish is cooked anyway.”
After you’ve got you catch cleaned, it’s time to brine it.??“I don’t like to marinate my fish before I smoke them,” says Leysath. “Instead, I like to use a dry rub.”??Here’s the recipe that Leysath uses:??3/4 cup kosher salt??1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar??1 teaspoon onion powder??1 teaspoon garlic powder??1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper??He combines all the ingredients and then rubs the fish inside and out with the mixture. At that point, The Sporting Chef places the rubbed fish inside a covered dish and then refrigerates it for at least 12 hours. After the fish has been in the fridge for the specified time, he takes it out and lets it air dry until it has a tacky glaze on it – a process that usually takes about 2 hours.??“The salt and sugar get the cooking process started, but when it’s time to do the smoking, I like to use a charcoal grill,” he says. “A good ol’ Weber will work great. There should be plenty of apple trees around Auburn, so grab a few small branches — fruitwood is dynamite for smoking.
Get the coals to the white-hot stage and then move them all to one side of the barbecue. Place your dry apple wood directly on the coals and place the trout on the grill, away from the direct heat.”??The key, he says, to good smoking is low heat. Temperatures in the 100- to 110-degree range are about right, but you’re going to be okay all the way up to 180 degrees. At 110 degrees, your trout should be ready within 1 to 1½ hours. If you’re cooking at 180 degrees, you’ll be done in 20 to 30 minutes – just be sure to not overcook your fish. Leysath said that you can add a pan of water to the grill to help keep your fish a little more moist if necessary.??You can also smoke fish on a gas grill, but he says it’s not as easy. Luhr Jensen Little (and Big) Chief electric smokers will produce better results.??After you pull the fish from the smoker, let it cool before you tear into it. It’s a fabulous treat on its own, but smoked trout is also extremely versatile.??”I like to make smoked trout appetizer dip by mixing up some soft cream cheese, a little mayo and then I’ll add stuff like garlic and assorted herbs,” he says. “At the end, I’ll blend in some smoked fish and the end result is really nice. You can also make a smoked fish spread with the trout, soft cream cheese, some chopped artichoke hearts and parmesan cheese. Use the spread to stuff tomatoes with or make sandwiches out of it like you would with tuna fish.” ??One word: yum!??
Leysath is truly the master of all things tasty when it comes to fish and game. You can find more recipes like this one at his Web site, www.sportingchef.com.??