Smoke Your Own Trout for Delicious Meals and/or Preservation
If you have trout in the freezer left over from this summer, now is the time to smoke them for a future feast – don’t let them go bad.
All you need is a Little Chief or similar electric smoker and a little know-how, and you can turn fish and meats into tantalizing gourmet fare.
This is how to do it:
Little Chief: The Little Chief, an electric smoker with three trays, measures 2 feet high, 12 inches wide and 11 inches deep. At cabelas.com, a Little Chief costs $75. A Big Chief costs $95.
Preparing trout: If the trout are fresh caught, gut them and remove gills, entrails and blood line along the backbone. If frozen, thaw the fish slowly in a refrigerator. When thawed, cut off the trout’s head (and if quite large, the tail as well). Then, with a cutting board, hold the fish on its back so its open cavity is facing you. With a sharp knife, starting at the neck, make a clean cut through the ribs and along the backbone to the skin, and continue the cut all the way down to the tail. Then open the fish so it lies flat, skin down. This is called “butterflying” a trout.
Seasoning: Sprinkle Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or my personal favorite, Lawry’s Black Pepper Seasoned Salt, heavily across the open skin of the butterflied trout. Some people soak the fish in a salt brine, and I’ve tried many concoctions (brown sugar, sea salt, honey, ground pepper, etc.), but I think trout and salmon are far better smoked with no brine to avoid the salty taste and enhance the smoky flavor.
Preparing smoker: Remove the three trays from the smoker and spray them with Pam. Place hickory chips in a metal pan at the bottom of the smoker, which sits over the heating element. Plug the cord into a grounded outlet.
Getting started: Place each tray into the smoker and then place the door over the front of the smoker, sealing the smoker.
The process: After 60 to 90 minutes, open the smoker and switch the top tray with the bottom tray. The bottom tray cooks hotter so this evens out the cooking process.
The result: After about 3 to 4 hours, the length of a football game, the trout will be done. So even if the quarterback is a dud, you still have something to look forward to. Eat immediately or freeze for a fall or winter feast.