In the spirit of the season (and by the season I mean Lent) I’m offering you a dinner fit for a meatless Friday. This is from all the way back in June 2011, so I know that this will be new to (a lot of) you!
In addition to this being a surprisingly successful dinner, this post features what might be my best (and favorite) non-sequiter rant. It’s a doozy.
I’m not a fan of seafood that is not of the crustacean variety. I’ve mentioned that fact every time a fish card is drawn. In some cases I have been pleasantly surprised, and in others I’m all “I still don’t like fish” and in the case of #28 Tuna-Cheese-Macaroni-Loaf I was all “screw you, fish!” I really need to get over #28. I think I need therapy.
So this brings me to #11. Baked Stuffed Bass. But I didn’t do bass. I did trout because (well, aside from the fact that I couldn’t get a whole cleaned fish of any kind from Safeway) it was available whole and gutted through my farm club Arganica and it was frozen. I wanted to get a fresh caught bluefish but I wasn’t sure how long it would be sitting on the stoop after delivery. So frozen trout it was.
Here I am, having a moment with my trout. Not a flattering photo, but it was an important milestone in both our lives:
It was a lovely trout, weighing in at approximately 1.25 lbs and at about 14 inches in length. It came in a vacuum sealed pouch. I was really impressed by the quality. They must have thrown this baby into the bag as soon as they caught it. It didn’t smell fishy at all, and the eyes and gills looked nice and shiny.
Are trouts Canadian? Or is that salmon? I don’t know but I was getting a heavy Canadian vibe from this fish (in the above photo I was totally thinking of Bruce McCullough). Speaking of Canada, I just watched this Canadian movie called Black Christmas (1974) which many consider to be the first slasher film–you know, deranged killer indiscriminately killing teenagers until one virtuous heroine is the only one left standing (see the first half of Jamie Lee Curtis’ filmography).
Well this one is set in a sorority house at some unnamed college and the killer is making obscene phone calls to the sisters, who include Olivia Hussey (famous for the Zeffirelli Romeo & Juliet), Andrea Martin (SCTV), and the one and only Margot Kidder, the Lois Lane to Christopher Reeves’ Superman. Which just totally reminded me of the Can You Read My Mind? flying sequence from the first film. Which is crazyballs and all kinds of amazing.
Anyway, Margot Kidder. She won a 1975 Canadian Film Award for Best Lead Actress for Black Christmas in which she smokes cigarettes, drinks bourbon, swears a lot and gets killed by a crystal unicorn (seriously). She’s not even the archetypal hero girl. She dies. Yet she wins best lead actress. This leads me to believe that they just don’t make movies in Canada (Scratch that. They make Lifetime Movies in Canada).
OH, they also riot in Canada.
I have made a decision. If I ever have a daughter I am going to name her Margot. Margot Brungo. With a name like that you have to go on to be a famous something or other, actress, singer, nuclear physicist. Well, a Harlequin romance novelist at the very least. Shit, maybe I should just start writing trashy books and make that my nom de plume.
All this and I never got around to determining if trout come from Canada or not. Hm.
So I guess I should talk about #11.
4pm. I began with the fish stuffing, which I cut in half because I had a smaller fish. The stuffing was pretty standard except for the addition of finely chopped dill pickle (?). I stuffed said stuffing into the fish and secured it using my handy-dandy toothpicks.
4:45. The stuffed fish is in the fridge while I preheated the oven and made the tomato sauce (which was nice and easy–just like the hair dye that does NOT cover grey hair! Yeah, I’m in the bad place). Since my fish was smaller than the 3-4 pounder for which #11 was designed, I had a difficult time determining what my bake time would be. DiS! says 50-60 min for a 3-4 lb fish. The Joy of Cooking says to bake until a meat thermometer, inserted at an angle in the thickest portion of the flesh behind the gills, reads 140-145 degrees.
I know, Brian. What the fuck is a girl to do?
4:59. I had a bitch of a time with the oven, temperature-wise. Yet AGAIN! The sauce was on the stove top boiling, just waiting to be put on top of the stuffed trout but the oven temperature inexplicably dropped from 350 to 300. At this point I had to ask myself, “is there a correlation between using the burners and the internal oven temp?”
5:08. The oven was still hovering somewhere between 300 and 350 but I had dinner to serve so I got my trout all gussied up and put it into the oven. I listened to DiS!. I listened to The Joy of Cooking. But I had to put on my big girl panties and made the decision to just eyeball the damn thing. I was looking for a fucking flaking fish filet.
5:30. I took the fish out and stuck the thermometer into the thickest part of the flesh behind the gills. It read 120. So I set my timer for 10 more minutes.
5:35. As the fish was baking I lightly boiled my broccoli spears (also from Arganica), drained them, and put them in a sauce pan with crushed garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon (Arganica again). I had the lid on and planned on mushing everything together once all the other elements of the meal were ready and rearing to go (I tried to recreate the garlicky broccoli that mother makes on occasion, but honestly I didn’t do it justice).
5:42. Another temperature check. This time, after inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the flesh behind the gills, I got a temp reading between 130 and 135 and deduced that another 10 more minutes were in order.
5:50. I put my Country Crock grey container buttery mashed potatoes into the microwave. Lazy. I know. Get over it. I’m working with a whole fish for Christ’s sake.
During the last 10 minutes the trout finished cooking (beautifully, may I add), I mashed the broccoli/garlic/olive oil/lemon, and the potatoes came out of the microwave.
6:00. You know what? At this point, DINNER IS SERVED!
Upon serving I would like to note that the fillets of fish separated so easily from both the skin of the trout and all those teeny tiny needle-like rib bones. Seriously, in my portion I think I only had to pick out 2 bones.
This tasted pretty good considering that I’m not a fish fan. However, I wished that the sauce consisted more of just tomato paste, lemon and parsley. I that might have elevated this dish from a mere edible dish to a delectable dish, but DiS! has lead me astray very few times and since this was something I had never prepared, it was best to follow #11 guidelines.
After dinner I served Chocolate Mousse from Card #93. I made this night before because it told me to have it chill at least 6 hours. And I did that. And it turned out OK. I will admit that I am not the world’s biggest fan of dark or semi-sweet chocolate. Really, for me, if it’s not milk or white–eh. I’m not a big chocolate person. I do not like chocolate cake nor chocolate ice cream nor chocolate mousses. I am fine with chocolate sauces and accompaniments and things that are covered in chocolate, but things that are chocolate flavored, not so much. Also, with the whipped eggs and melted chocolate DiS! was getting very close to a sauce/gravy and the precedent for (non) success had been set with my first meal involving gravy. Yowza.
So I jury-rigged a double boiler and did the glass bowl on the pot of boiling water, yadda yadda yadda. I mixed it like supplementary card #93 told me to and it still didn’t seem right–nowhere near as fluffy as a mousse should be but nowhere near as thick and viscous as a pudding. I am going to totally put the blame on the fact that I don’t have a hand mixer and that I utilized an immersion blender with the whisk attachment. Of course it wouldn’t be the fact that I perhaps over-whipped it because I am perfect and do everything right.
I want to go out on a high note here. I think that me and the trout had some good mojo going on. We were simpatico. I knew when he was ready to come out of the oven and he knew exactly how to tell me. This was a story that overcame the obstacles set by my shitty oven, my unreliable oven thermometer and the human error that results from meat thermometers.
Trout, my lovely trout, can you read my mind?
Recipe from Dinner is Served 1972 Marjon Promotions, Inc.