Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I picked up the Lee Brothers new Simple Fresh Southern at the Crescent City Farmer's Market a few weeks back. It's a fantastic find, and I'm not even being paid to shill for it. The updated produce-oriented Southern dishes are delicious, easy to toss together, and interesting - I've been playing around with it for a few weeks and haven't encountered a bummer dish yet. I'll be posting a few dishes from the book over the next few weeks with some marginally pithy commentary. Nice guys. Get the book.
My dad had invited company over, and I decided I'd take a (minor) risk and sample one of the recipes from the book. Pan fried trout with herb stuffing? Why not? A couple of attractive head-on rainbow fillets from Whole Foods and I was in business.
I floured the trout fillets a little, then cooked them in a combination of butter and olive oil. Mostly butter. Rainbow trout calls out for butter in large quantities, and you'd be a fool to deny its siren song. About two to three minutes on each side should be adequate for your needs. Respect thy fish.
The recipe calls for stuffing made from plain old bread: I chose cornbread. Cornbread is both more Southern and, in my estimation, infinitely more delicious. (This too is probably part and parcel of some unheralded genetic memory). I toasted the cornbread chunks in the oven until they were crispy, then tossed them with dill, chives, mint, and a little thyme. I would suggest adding the lemon and the olive oil about five minutes before serving to allow for a little - not too much - saturation.
I made the book's skillet-toasted green beans with orange as well.
1 large navel orange
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Grate the orange zest and keep it aside, then segment the orange and keep the sections (and juice) in the same bowl. Put in the vinegar, olive oil, and the salt, then keep it aside. This would be your vinaigrette.
Get a cast-iron skillet or a saute pan, then heat the oil. I used olive instead of canola. Toss in the beans and scatter a 1/2 teaspoon of salt over them. Cook them for about eight minutes, without a lot of stirring: you want them to get a little blackened and crispy. Once finished, toss them in a bowl, then throw in the reserved orange segments. You can also toss in a few orange segments during cooking if you'd like - I do. Put the dressing over the beans, then serve. Yum.
I even went to the trouble of fancy-cutting the oranges to eliminate the peel and pith as the Lee Brothers advise, which added a fresh and rather jewel-like texture to the completed dish. As a lover of Chinese food, I've always found that charring green beans just a little brings out the flavor: this dish keys into that revelation. I think the inclusion of just a tiny bit of garlic certainly wouldn't harm matters.
My dad's friend, a wine merchant, kindly brought over a few nice bottles. Which you can see here. The Shane syrah was a smoky-ass red wine and would be swell with a BBQ meal.
A great recipe and a very tasty dish. This one is a keeper. Going to be trying some more stuff from the book soon.