In case you're unfamiliar, The Daring Kitchen is an online cooking community composed of The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks. Many are members of both groups. Each month, there is one Daring Bakers' Challenge and one Daring Cooks' Challenge, each hosted by a member of the respective group. I've been a member of both groups for two years and have enjoyed the opportunity to learn new techniques and prepare challenging recipes that have originated in different parts of the world.
Although I can't reveal the dish I chose for this month's challenge until reveal day, I can tell you it was from a cookbook I've been cooking from quite often - John Besh's My New Orleans: The Cookbook. This recipe for Trout Amandine comes from the chapter dedicated to Speckled Trout & Redfish. As summer approaches, I start looking at lighter dishes that I can pair with fresh produce from the Farmers' Market.
Green beans, creole spices, lemon, parsley, almonds, and fresh trout filets...
Besh says, "In traditional French cooking, a whole fish would be lightly dredged in flour and cooked in butter. In New Orleans we prefer the skinless trout filet. Properly browning the butter makes all the difference. Don't rush it; take your time swirling the butter in the pan so that the milk solids brown and give off the signature, nutty aroma that is heightened once you add the almonds. Add the lemon juice and serve while the sauce is still foamy."
Slightly adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows)
4 skinless trout filets (5-7 ounces each)
Freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Pour the milk into a breading tray or wide dish. Put the flour and Creole Spices into another breading tray and stir to combine. Season the filets with salt and pepper, dip them into the milk, and dredge in the seasoned flour.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the filets and cook on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a serving platter.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the skillet over the heat so that the butter melts evenly and cook until the butter turns brownish, 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the almonds, and cook, stirring gently, until the nuts are toasty brown, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, parsley, and a dash of salt.
Spoon the browned butter and almonds over the fish and serve.
Basic Creole Spices
Makes 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.
Of course, after eating this flavorsome dish, my mind wanders back to the joys of fly fishing for trout in Colorado and Montana. Besh refers to trout that hang around posh mountain resorts (rainbows, brookies, browns and cutthroats) as snob trout. These are not related to the speckled trout caught in Louisiana, which are really spotted weakfish. Regardless of whether you use "snob" trout or speckled trout, I think you'll enjoy this dish!