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Trout à la Chateau Cuisine — Truites aux Morilles (Trout with Morel Mushrooms)

December 10, 2009

Fishing is one of those activities that I’ve come to relish for several reasons. It gets me out in the mountains, streams, rivers and lakes, to the ocean, on the beach to surf fish, or on the many jetties that dot the coast to catch rockfish. It reminds me that nature is constant and, at the same time, changing. And whatever worries are on my mind, they inevitably fade away as the cityscape leads to rolling hills covered with Douglas fir and then on to the majestic snow-capped mountains of the Cascade Range or the forest-covered mountains of the Coast Ranges.

In Oregon, I’ve found Zen in fishing. Plus there’s the added benefit that the locations for the best fishing usually have the worst cell phone reception.

During both of my furloughs from work this year, I made a sign to hang on my computer. It simply said: “Gone Fishing”.

But my passion for trout fishing is equaled by a passion for digging up recipes on preparing trout.

There are only so many times that I can bring home my fresh catch and simply smoke them or pan fry them in butter before culinary boredom strikes.

So last weekend, before heading off to one of my favorite trout-fishing spots, Detroit Lake, I headed to our shelves to retrieve a book I purchased when we lived in Fort Worth, Texas. I was drawn to Château Cuisine because it is not only about French cooking, but also details the rich history of the many famous châteaux that dot the country — complete with beautiful photographs that would make anyone want to hop on a plane and visit France. I also chose the book because French cooking had always intimidated me. Reading French recipes, even in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I sometimes feel too inept to attempt the recipe. It’s almost like the French think you have to be worthy of French cooking…so one must practice a few times before a recipe truly reveals itself.

Truites aux Morilles

This time, however, I came across a recipe for Truites aux Morilles, from Château D’Anjony near Auvergne, and instantly I decided if I came home with trout, I’d try it. It turned out to be simple as well as delicious. Plus, it called for dry white wine and we had some stainless-steel-fermented chardonnay from Pudding River, one of our favorite Oregon wineries.

When I got to Detroit Dam, only one other person was there. The temperature was in the 20s, the wind was blowing, and flakes of snow drifted onto the dam from the snow-capped mountains and snow-dusted Douglas firs. I had thermal underwear on, a knit cap, gloves, and 2 layers of heavy jackets. But it was sunny and otherwise beautiful.

When trout fishing, some guys use salmon eggs, some use power bait, others use worms. I learned a while back that a sure thing for trout bait is salad shrimp. The buoyant shrimp floats in the water, it has a scent that attracts the fish, and it stays on the hook pretty good. You just have to fight the urge to eat your bait for lunch.

During the winter, less water is let out from the dam, but there’s also less water entering the lake from snowmelt. From December through March the lake is at its lowest level, and in the shallows you can see stumps where the forest once stood. If you can stand the cold, it’s actually a good time to fish at the dam at Detroit Lake because only the hardy will venture there. Plus the fish have less natural food than during other times of the year and will more readily take your bait. The only trick once you set the hook is reeling the fish quickly up the 100-yard face of the dam — the trout wiggling to get free all the way up.

After three hours I ended up with two medium-sized trout (18-20 cm.) and one about a foot long (30 cm.) and decided it was time to head home, get warm and start prepping for dinner.

Truites aux Morilles

  1. 1 ounce (30 gr.) dried morel mushrooms or 1/4 pound (120 gr.) fresh morels
  2. 3 trout, cleaned
  3. Salt and pepper
  4. 3/4 cup (180 ml.) all-purpose flour
  5. 1/2 cup (120 ml.) butter
  6. 3/4 cup (180 ml.) dry white wine
  7. 1 1/2 cup (360 ml.) heavy cream
  8. 1 cup (240 ml.) milk (whole, low-fat, or non-fat)
  • If using dried mushrooms, rehydrate them by soaking them about an hour in hot water. Drain, rinse in cold water to get any dirt out and then slice them lengthwise.
  • Put the milk in a shallow rectangular baking dish or pan and coat the trout on each side with the milk.
  • Put the flour in another shallow rectangular baking dish, pan or plate, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Over a medium flame, melt the butter in a large pan.
  • Working with one fish at a time, coat the trout that was dredged in milk with flour and then fry all the fish at once, about 3 minutes per side.
  • Lower the heat and add the mushrooms, cooking the fish about another minute on each side.
  • Remove the fish to a serving platter and keep warm.
  • Pour off the butter from the pan, leaving the mushrooms, then add the wine to the pan and scrape to dislodge any browned pan juices.
  • Add the cream and simmer 3-5 minutes.
  • Pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

Wild rice, brown rice, or steamed white rice would make a great accompaniment with the trout as well as the sauce.

Enjoy!

— Vic

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2009 4:03 pm

    I found you through the evergreen tree cookie comments… Your morel trout looks sublime if expensive for those of us without morel woods to forage through… Great post… fun blog.

    • Charles permalink*
      December 13, 2009 6:09 pm

      Thank you Deana. Morels are definitely a special occasion ingredient.

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