Frank's Trout Ranchero

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by Frank Davis

wwltv.com

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 13 at 2:38 PM

8 speckled trout, redfish, or catfish fillets     
8 sheets of aluminum foil cut to size
4 teaspoons Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning* 
1 stick melted butter, melted     
4 fresh lemons, sliced in quarters
Zest of the lemons
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or garlic hot sauce    
1 bottle name-brand ranch dressing     
8 tablespoons crispy-fried bacon crumbles
4 cups rough-mashed boiled red potatoes
Minced green onion and parsley mixture for garnish

First, wash the fillets thoroughly under cool running water. 

Then, using several layers of absorbent paper towels, pat each one “bone dry” and set it aside on a platter.

Next, tear off 8 sheets of aluminum foil to accommodate the size of the fillets (individual baking potato sheets work well if you can find them at your neighborhood supermarket).  Then, after placing one fillet on each of the sheets, prep the fish—in steps—as follows:

1—Sprinkle evenly with the seafood seasoning (you should use approximately a half teaspoon on each fillet and rub it in well with your hands);

2—Evenly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of melted butter over each fillet;

3—Splash the juice of a quarter 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 2 tablespoons of ranch dressing

6—Finally finish up the dish by scattering on a half-handful of bacon crumbles.  

At this point, agitate the foil sheet gently to level out the seasonings and toppings. 

Then roll each fillet tightly inside of the foil, seal it up, and set it in a single layer on the grill grate. 

They should be done in about 30 minutes. 

When they’re ready, remove them from the grill and let them rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

When it’s time to serve them, place two fillets on each plate, slit the foil open, pipe on a generous portion of mashed potatoes, and crown with a generous sprinkling of the green onion and parsley mixture to garnish.  

The fish and seasonings will yield a rich, almost creamy sauce that accentuates the potatoes and truly complements whatever side dishes it accompanies. 

Warning—you’re going to make this a lot!

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Chef’s Notes: 

1—This recipe can also be done using tilapia, sheepshead, or drum fillets.  Just make certain that the fish is trimmed meticulously and the bloodlines are completely removed.

2—The fillets may be prepared a day in advance.  Simply place them on individual pieces of aluminum foil, season with the spices, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ranch dressing, wrap them tightly, and stash in the bottom of the refrigerator overnight.  The marinade will significantly enhance the flavor of the fish when baked the next day.  

3—If you don’t have seafood seasoning on hand, you can make your own mixture of salt and black pepper and use it as a substitute. 

4—If you’d like to serve this with a salad, the salad I recommend is one made with slivered carrots, peeled and de-seeded cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes, chilled and tossed with a homemade Italian vinaigrette and sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.      

5—Lemon zest is the outermost skin of the lemon, scraped off in ultra-thin layers with a zesting tool so as not to include the bitter white pithe.  Only small amounts should be used in recipes because the flavor and strength is intense. 

6—Hint: When you do this dish on the grill, fire up the pit with heat on one side only (you can use either charcoal or gas).  Then simply place the foil-wrapped fish atop the grate on the side that is away from the flame.  What happens is the fish cooks gently—and doesn’t burn—by radiated heat instead of direct heat.  Depending upon the grill, however, you may have to vary the cooking time somewhat.
 

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