A long time ago, in a galaxy far away … No, it was only the 1980’s and it was here, right here in the USA. Public television ran several series call Great Chefs. Great Chefs of Chicago. Great Chefs of New York. You may have seen them or remember the woman’s soft voice.
When it came to other parts of the country, PBS punted. They published a book called Southwest Tastes, authored by Ellen Brown, which documented the Great Chefs of the West, not just the Southwest. The recipes ranged from Texas to San Francisco. And now, 25 years later, they are worth revisiting.
Take trout. Growing up in Oregon, we had two kinds of fish: salmon and trout. Oh, yeah there was bass from the lakes but, my God, lakes? Who the hell fishes in lakes? You fish in rivers in Oregon or out in the ocean. Not in some silly lake. Talk about fish in a barrel!
So, I ate a lot of trout. Pan fried and served with lemon juice, I had them endlessly. And while I never had been bored by trout, truthfully it seems a waste not to amplify the flavor. Here’s an exciting recipe from Jeffrey’s in Austin, Texas, a restaurant still there, still serving great quality.
I’ve modified the recipe here, using less butter, and the same amount of sauce for two trout, not four. Instead of cutting the cashews into small pieces, I’m used mostly cashew halves, for visual effect and bigger crunch.
Don’t cook the trout too long. You want it moist and soft, not leathery. The combination of moist trout with a strong sauce generates a grand dining experience. This dish would pair best with some simple, very buttery mashed potatoes.
Trout with Cashews, Cilantro and Lime-Butter Sauce
Yield: Serves 2
- 2 trout fillets
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 limes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ cup cashew halves
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into a dozen small pieces
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
Remove any skin and small bones from the fillets. Sprinkle the fillets with slat and pepper and dust lightly with flour, shaking to remove any excess.
Heat the 3 first three tablespoons of butter in a cast iron pan. When melted, add the two trout, skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes, gently turn, and cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer to warming dish and keep warm in an oven at 150°F.
Pour the grease from the pan and add the juice of the limes and chicken stock. Reduce over high heat by ¾, then add the cashews and turn off the heat. Add the remaining butter one pieces at a time, whisking to blend. Add the cilantro, stir to mix and serve over the fish.
Source: Southwest Tastes by Ellen Brown from Jeffrey’s of Austin
Cilantro is a lively herb that we mostly encounter diced up in salsa or in guacamole. The sharp flavor is unmistakable. Cooked cilantro? That’s a much more rare experience, yet this sauce will convince you of some hidden flavor powers of cilantro.
This sauce is a thick, dense amalgam of cilantro and chicken-based stock. It has a deep, almost earthy flavor. Originally, this sauce was recommended for roasted chicken breasts, but we served it on turkey breast [see yesterday’s post for a turkey breast recipe].
Beyond poultry, this sauce would work brilliantly with fish, or serve as the sauce component for Mexican dish. Using this sauce in a burrito or enchilada will spark flavor buds and curiosity.
This sauce can be created in just a few minutes and, like all good leftovers, seems to be even more yummy the day after.
Yield: 1 ½ cup
- 2 cups water
- l chicken bouillon cube
- l bunch cilantro, stemmed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Follow the usual instruction for a bouillon cube: heating 2 cups of water with the cube until the cube melts. You will use only half of this mixture. Or, you can double the recipe!
In a blender, combine the cilantro, cream, and one cup of the chicken bouillon. Blend well and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes; do not brown. Whisk in the cilantro mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils and thickens slightly.
Season with salt and pepper.
Source: Adapted from The Seven Stars Cookbook