2 cups corn or canola oil for frying
8-10 trimmed speckled trout fillets, 8 oz. size, cut into 4-inch chunks
4 cups seasoned all-purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter (not margarine)
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
4 cloves fresh-peeled garlic, minced
6-8 sweet basil leaves, torn into pieces
3 whole bay leaves
3/4 cup sliced green onion tops and bottoms
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and crushed
1 can tomato sauce, 16-oz. size
3 jars sliced mushrooms, drained
2 cups canned chicken broth
1 cup semi-dry white wine
Juice of one large lemon
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
6 cups cooked long-grain rice
The first thing you want to do is heat the corn or canola oil in a large, high-sided skillet until it reaches about 350 degrees. Then while the oil is coming up to heat, dredge the slightly wet, cut up fish pieces (take extra caution to remove all the bones!) in the spicy seasoned flour and set them aside on a sheet of waxed paper.
Then when the oil is at the right temperature, begin “dropping in” the fish pieces a few at a time and frying them until they just start to crust over—do not overcook them or they will be tough! As they become browned, remove them from the oil and drain them on a couple of layers of absorbent paper towels.
Next, take a large covered skillet or heavy aluminum oval roaster, melt the butter, and stir into the mix the next 11 ingredients in the order listed (stop adding when you get to the chicken broth).
At this stage, sauté everything together gently over a medium heat until the “gravy” uniformly combines. This should take you about 15 minutes—total. Just be sure you keep everything from scorching.
At this point, add to the pot the chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and peppers to taste, stir everything until fully blended, and then very gently “nestle” the speckled trout you seared earlier into this tomato preparation.
Note: Be extra careful when adding the fish so that the chunks don’t break up in the sauce!
Now lower the heat to simmer and put the heavy lid on the pot. All that’s left to do is cook the courtbouillion for about 25 minutes, but once again remember…do not stir the pot because this would break up the fish.
If you feel that you must mix the ingredients to blend them further, gently agitate the entire pot from side to side with the lid in place. But at all cost, do not break up the fish.
Finally, when you’re ready to eat, spoon a generous portion of the trout nuggets (along with several ladles full of the courtbouillion) lavishly over a gumbo or soup bowl filled with the hot rice and serve it up with, maybe, some spicy mixed veggies alongside a chilled avocado, white onion, black olive, and tomato salad.
This is so doggone good, it’ll make you wanna take up fishin’ just to have a year ‘round supply of trout fillets on hand!
►The fresh tomatoes you use in this recipe must be overly ripe so that they will cook down (almost disappearing) into a subtle sauce. If you prefer to de-seed them, you can, but it isn’t necessary.
►If you would prefer to have a spicier courtbouillion with the pieces of fish creating a rich flavor of their own, instead of using seasoned flour substitute my Spicy Chicken Fried Mix in its place. You can also substitute my Seafood Seasoning for the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in this recipe. You can find both of these at www.frankdavis.com.
►To make a tasty, quick rice to serve with the courtbouillion, try this recipe:
4 cups instant rice
4 cups water (or canned chicken broth)
1/3 cup parsley, minced
3/4 cup green onion tops, thinly sliced
1 stick butter
Bring the water, parsley, green onions, and butter to a rapid boil. Then stir in the instant rice; but immediately remove the pot from the fire. Let it rest for about 5 minutes or so, fluffing the rice with a fork as it absorbs the water/broth. This makes a delicately favored pot of rice that adds a special intensity to the courtbouillion.
►This dish can also be done in the oven as well as on top the stove. After the fish has been added, instead of cooking the courtbouillion over a low fire on the stovetop, simply slide the oval roaster into a pre-heated 350-degree oven and cook for about 45 minutes.