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Nero Wolfe’s trout deal September 28, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Fish, Wolfe recipe.
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On one of the few times Nero Wolfe leaves his house, he brings with him the key ingredients to make his Trout Deal (Death of a Dude). I admire his method of travelling – take with you enough spices and herbs to ensure a good meal at your destination, even if you are unsure of local culinary trends. While Nero Wolfe calls for small brook trout, I used standard sized rainbow trout for this recipe.

To start with, I mixed the stuffing for the trout; this consisted of minced onion, parsley, chives and tarragon – a flavour profile I now associate primarily with Nero Wolfe. The perplexing instruction for this recipe was to chop the mushrooms and then squeeze their juice into the stuffing. Now, maybe my mushrooms were extra dry, or maybe I misunderstood the instructions, but I got no juice out of my mushrooms. I added a bit of soy sauce to compensate.

I ended up with three rainbow trout for the two of us, which may have been overkill. Here’s a completely gratuitous shot of the trout before I stuffed them, because I thought they were pretty.

I stuffed each fish with the stuffing – I think because the fish were bigger than those called for in the recipe, I didn’t really have enough stuffing to stuff the fish as full as I would have liked.

After I’d stuffed them all, I prepared the fish for baking. When I was reading this recipe, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the egging and breading did not lead to frying; instead, the recipe called for baking. I dunked the trout in first the egg, then the breadcrumbs/parmesan cheese mixture, and set them in a buttered baking tin.

While the fish were baking, I set to work making the sauce. The recipe called for fresh tomatoes, which were to be cooked down until pulpy and juicy. As tomatoes are not currently in season – and the ones for sale not very ripe or juicy – I decided to substitute tinned tomatoes. I added more diced onion, the mushrooms I was meant to squeeze the juice out of earlier, and some paprika. I cooked this until the onions were soft and everything was well integrated.

The recipe stated I could blend the ingredients for a smooth sauce but I decided not to, as I was happy with the chunks of mushrooms and didn’t want to lose this.

After about 20 minutes, the trout were done. I served them whole, with the sauce poured over the top.

I do forget sometimes how subtle and respectful to the ingredients Nero Wolfe can be. So many of the recipes are laden with cream, or fried, but this one was light and flavoursome while preserving the fantastic flavour of the trout. The stuffing had permeated the flesh of the trout, complementing rather than overpowering the taste of the trout. While I wouldn’t have picked the tomato sauce as an accompaniment to trout, it worked really well, again without diminishing the flavour of the trout. This was a very well-balanced dish where all the flavours worked well together.

While I haven’t yet started taking my own spices wherever I travel, I can see the appeal. In this case, Nero Wolfe brought all the ingredients and all he required was the freshly caught trout to complete the dish. Once again I am happily surprised in the cleverness and subtlety of the dish, and hope that when I begin to carry my own spices around with me I am able to replicate such subtlety.

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