Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Friday Night Plan #3

Earlier this week my colleague Will took me on my first fly fishing outing. In honour of this I'd like to share the way I cooked the delicious trout I caught. With fish so fresh I wanted to keep it simple. A good blend of textures and bang-on seasoning is what makes this dish. Hopefully my wine recommendations will be inspiring, and you'll have a good film to watch.

The Food

Serves 4.

4 trout fillets (skin on),
8 Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 inch chunks,
1 bag of Chantenay carrots,
100g unsalted butter,
250ml double cream,
Sunflower/vegetable oil,
2 shallots sliced,
A bunch of parsley well chopped,
A glass of dry white wine or Vermouth,


Place the fish flesh-down on a chopping board. Score slits in the skin with a sharp knife by pinching the fish to push up the middle. Season the skin with salt and pepper. Heat a little sunflower/vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is really hot but not smoking, put the fillets in skin-side down. It might be quite loud and spitty. Take care and wear something with long sleeves. Put on the extractor fan. Fry until the skin is nice and crispy, which should take a couple of minutes. Try not to move the fish much or the skin won't crisp up and will fall apart. Once the skin is crisp, carefully place the fillets on a plate to one side.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and put a well-oiled roasting tray in the oven. Top and tail your carrots. Par boil them in a pan of well-salted water for a couple of minutes. Drain and season them. Put the carrots on the preheated tray in the oven to roast for 25 minutes or until caramelising. Give the tray a little shake half way through to ensure even cooking.

Make the mash. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and carefully put in your potatoes. Boil for about 10 minutes or until soft enough to easily take a knife. Drain well in a colander. It's best to mash with a potato ricer, but if you really can't get one just use a hand held masher or a fork, but don't put them in a food processor. Once your potatoes are mashed add 50g of your butter chopped up into cubes, and beat in. Now add enough cream to get the consistency right for you. I like it just firm enough to hold it's shape. Season well to taste and grate in a shed load of nutmeg because it's delicious.

Now finish off the fish. Make sure there's still some oil in the frying pan and that it's hot. Throw in your shallots and fry until slightly coloured. Add in your wine or vermouth to deglaze the pan. Boil to reduce slightly. Next is a good few lugs of cream and stir well. Reduce slightly again and throw in the remaining butter. Again, reduce slightly and throw in your parsley and some seasoning. Stir to incorporate. Return the fish to the pan flesh-side down for barely any time at all until the fish is just cooked through.

To serve, dollop a big spoon of mash on a plate. Carefully lay the trout over the mash. Divide the carrots between the plates in little piles. Finish by spooning the sauce over the trout and around the mash...

...Et Voila.

The Wine

Budget Option:
Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc - £8.79 when you buy two bottles from South Africa. After the long, manic Christmas period the thing I was looking forward to the most was South Africa coming on offer. Now that it is, I'm going to make the most of it. This is a favorite from South Africa, and I know it has a large fan base. Lovely creaminess will complement the rich potatoes and the sauce, and the confected fruit will go well with the roasted carrots. Crisp acidity and a slight citrus note goes great with the fish.

Fine Wine Option:
Chapoutier Invitaire Condrieu - £30.00. From one of the most popular, forward thinking and passionate winemakers of the Rhone Valley comes this Condrieu. Michel Chapoutier has produced a superb Condrieu with crisp acidity, and round, soft, stone fruit. This should go fantastically well. Oak ageing lends creaminess to pick up on the mash and sauce. The herbaceous notes will go well with the parsley in the sauce, while the crisp minerality goes with the fish.

The Film

This week is the first in a series of films all linked to this one, which will be announced as the series continues. When you think of great directors, probably the first that comes to mind is Alfred Hitchcock. I’m recommending my favourite Hitchcock film, which is Rear Window. Here’s the premise. The film is Set almost entirely in a single room. A man has broken his leg and is bound to this room. Becoming bitter and curmudgeonly he turns his attention to the flats he can see out his window. That’s all I want to tell you. If you haven’t seen it before I want the rest to be a surprise. Simply the fact that this film compels you to watch, and keeps building tension despite being constrained to one room is impressive. For that alone this film deserves to be seen. I think you’ll really enjoy it, and hopefully you’ll enjoy the films I’ll be recommending in the subsequent weeks that I think have been inspired by this Hitchcock masterpiece.

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