One fact about me — I am a sucker for a sale or some kind of perceived value. I am terrible with gift-with-purchase offers. All I have to do is spend $75, and I get a free $2 tote bag? How can I pass that up? Buy one get one free? — I’ll take 3 gross! But I digress. My circuitous point is that inspiration for meals can be taken from what is fresh at the market, or (in this case) what is on sale! And what did I find that was on sale? Why some nice whole trout at Whole Foods, that’s what!
Whole fish can be a little intimidating. Ever see that commercial where a woman is shopping for dinner and there’s “doubt” shadowing her every decision when she settles on the whole fish? It was snapper, I think. Lo and behold she’s able to accomplish her task thanks to her wonderful kitchen appliances. Of course, you don’t need a fancy double range like hers to make a nice fish dinner, although I would love to have that range in my kitchen, even if it did mean losing a whole wall of cabinetry! Which makes me wonder, why would someone who is afraid to cook need that kind of a kitchen? I can get by with my measly $100 range. I did splurge on a nice, gigantic, stainless refrigerator though. Well, not gigantic, but bigger than anything I’ve known in decades and decades of apartment living. But again I digress. . .
This recipe was done out on our humble grill (a free grill, BTW. . . thanx again Jeremy-with-a-Y) and not a big fancy oven. Pretty much, most of the cooking these days will be done on the grill because, hey! it’s summertime! Plus, it’s hot and A/C is expensive, so the oven in this kitchen will be off most of the time. And, to make matters easier, the fish was already cleaned and butterflied, so that saved like an hour of labor! FYI — I am a charcoal guy. In my opinion, you just cannot get the same flavor from a gas grill, but there are some nice smoking boxes out there that you can get to put on the flame so you can get a smoky flavor. Or you could just put some liquid smoke in everything.
This recipe is very simple and easy. I’d say the hardest thing is making the compound butter (which is just taking some chives and mixing it into some soft butter). Sure grilling fish ain’t for everybody, but something this simple is definitely worth a shot, right? Plus, since this cooks so fast, you can always just put on some hot dogs or burgers or pineapple or peaches, etc. afterward so you don’t waste the nice hot coals.
Here’s what you need:
For the chive butter:
- 4 T. butter, room temperature
- 1 T. chopped chives
- salt & pepper, to taste
Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl to combine. Let sit for about an hour to let the flavors marry. If it will sit for longer than an hour, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Can last about a week in the fridge. You can form the butter into a log, chill it in the fridge, and slice it into rounds if you like.
For the trout and lemons:
- 2 lemons, cut in half.
- 2 whole trout, about 1 1/2 lbs total (mine were already cleaned and de-boned)
- 2 T. olive oil
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- salt & pepper, to taste
1. Light your coals (charcoal chimneys are nice for this). With the fish skin-side down, brush with the olive oil. Season with the cayenne, salt, and pepper to your liking. Set aside
2. While the coals are getting ready, line the grill with some non-stick foil. When the coals are nice and red hot, dump them onto the grate and return the cooking surface to the grill. Place the fish skin-side down onto the foil and let it cook for 5-6 minutes without moving it (cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish). About halfway through, put the lemons cut-side down onto the hot grill and cook for the remaining 3 minutes (you could brush the lemons with olive oil or spray them with cooking spray).
3. When done cooking, transfer to a serving plate. Wrap with foil and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Remove foil and top with a dollop of the chive butter and a nice squeeze of the lemon.
Putting the lemons on the grill impart a nice smokiness. I’m not sure what a lemonade made using these lemons would taste like, but I think that would be an interesting experiment. Maybe for a bloody mary?