10-12 speckled trout fillets
3 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 oz. salt pork, minced and rendered down
6 fresh lemons, zested and halved
The zest of the lemons
2 tsp. red pepper flakes, as needed 1-1/2 cups ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Italian Four-Cheeses
6 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 stick butter, softened
1 pt. Half-N-Half cream
2 tsp. Frank Davis Sprinkling Spice
6 servings broccoli, carrot, corn, and tomato salad
1 cup olive salad mix
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps. Balsamic vinegar
2 loaves garlic French bread
Finely minced parsley for garnish
First, carefully trim each fish fillet and wash it thoroughly under cool running water.
Then, using several layers of absorbent paper towels, pat each fillet 'bone dry' and set it aside on a platter.
Next, set out a large shallow-sided aluminum baking pan and tear off a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil large enough to cover it.
Then after placing all the fillets side by side in the pan, prepare them as follows:
1-Sprinkle each fillet evenly on both sides with the seafood seasoning (you should rub it in well with your hands);
2-Stir together the melted butter, the olive oil, and the salt pork drippings and evenly pour about a tablespoon or two of the mixture over each fillet;
3-Drizzle the juice of a half lemon, along with a pinch of the zest, over each fillet;
4-Sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes on each fillet;
5-Then top each fillet with a uniform coating of about 2 to 3 tablespoons of ranch dressing.
At this point, agitate the pan gently to nestle all the ingredients together.
Then wrap the pan tightly with the foil, seal it up, set it onto the center rack of a preheated 400-degree oven, and bake the fish for approximately 20 minutes.
Then when they're almost done (a fork twisted gently in the center of the thickest fillet will cause the meat to flake apart), generously and evenly sprinkle on top the fish-alternating the layers-the cheddar cheese and the Italian cheeses, slide the pan back into the oven, and continue to bake the fish for another 10 minutes or until the cheeses melt and begin to toast lightly.
For best results, I suggest you let the fillets rest on the countertop for about 5 minutes before digging into them.
When you're ready to eat, place two cheese-covered fish fillets on each plate, top the fish with a generous scoop of mashed potatoes, crown with a scattering of the rendered out salt pork bits, spoon on a liberal helping of the pan sauce, garnish with a sprinkling of parsley, and complete the meal with a chilled crispy broccoli, carrot, corn, and cherry tomato salad tossed with Italian olive salad mix, extra olive oil, and a splash of Balsamic vinegar.
In the end, the fish drippings, the ranch dressing, and all the accompanying seasonings will yield a rich, almost creamy sauce that needs to be ladled liberally over both the fish and the potatoes to round out the meal. Oh yeah-and don't forget the garlic bread!
Warning-there is no way you can't eat just one serving of this stuff!
1-This recipe can also be done using flounder, redfish, sheepshead, or drum fillets; but doing it with speckled trout makes it absolutely exquisite. Just be certain that whatever fish you decide to use is trimmed meticulously and the bloodlines are completely removed.
2-If you don't have my seafood seasoning on hand, you can make your own mixture of salt and black pepper and use it as a substitute in a pinch.
3-Lemon zest is the outermost skin of the lemon, scraped off in ultra-thin layers with a zesting tool or a plane so as not to include the bitter white pithe. Only small amounts should be used in recipes because the flavor and strength is intense.
4-To prep the salt pork, take a sharp knife and cut the block into fine dice pieces. Then sprinkle them evenly into a shallow, non-stick skillet and render them over medium-low heat until the fat melts out and the meaty parts become crunchy and crispy.
5-The potatoes are first boiled until tender then drained and mashed to a creamy consistency. To season them, whisk in the quarter stick of butter, along with the Half-N-Half and the Frank Davis Sprinkling Spice. Whip them to a silky texture to finish them for serving.