I’ve been cooking up a storm lately now that the days are longer, the produce is more diverse and it just seems like a good idea to have friends over frequently. We’ve officially come out of hibernation.
A girlfriend that has a very creative eye has helped me with numerous decorating dilemmas around Casa de Rathbun and absolutely refuses to let me pay her. As a small token of my appreciation, we had her, her husband and her darling 3-year-old son over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. About 10 years ago, she moved back from Oklahoma City, where she was surrounded by tons of good friends and a vibrant social scene. To spend time with her and welcome her home, we used to have her over for Wednesday night dinners. She claims my trout almondine is the best she’s ever had and requested I make it for her when they came over recently. I took a twist on it because I’m allergic to almonds and she so kindly said, “Be sure you make food you can enjoy with us.” How thoughtful for her to worry about me when I’m trying to do something for her.
I’ve been longing for a trip back to France. Like itching really badly to go. We went five years ago in the summertime for a lovely vacation. Randy and I spent the first four days alone devouring all we could in Paris. And while that city is so incredibly charming and alluring, our absolute favorite part of the trip was when we traveled south to Vacqueyras. Our friend Mark had rented this incredibly charming 200-year-old villa for a month and invited us to join him and his friend Romeo for a visit. Romeo is from Switzerland, and he spoke a bit of French, which sure came in handy.
I worried a bit about going on this trip with just the guys, but it could not have been a lovelier vacation. We had leisurely mornings spent on the patio eating crispy, buttery croissants. Randy’s job, being the early bird that he is, was to walk a block to the boulangerie to fetch our morning pastries. He joked that the pastries almost fell through the bag because they were so laden with butter. But it wasn’t really a joke. It was true.
We spent our days without plans – just simply stumbling on whatever we found when we drove in another direction. We came upon a Michelin-star restaurant in our tiny town and enjoyed a magical eight-course dinner there one night that included lobster with fresh-cut truffle slices over it. But as we stopped to make reservations, Mark and I entered into the building and couldn’t get out. There was some strange automatic door, and we literally couldn’t get it to open for a while. We laughed so hard because we really were stuck. Finally we figured out how to get out, and it was nothing logical. Stories like that make for good memories.
I did my fair share of eating and drinking on that trip. Randy and I weigh ourselves before each vacation to see just how much fun we’ve had when we return. Let’s just say we had some serious fun in France.
Beurre blanc sauce always takes me back to that magical vacation. It’s very simple to make and goes well on any seafood. The recipe I’m sharing this week is my hodgepodge of pecan trout with orange beurre blanc. I made it for my friends recently, and my meat-and-potato-eating husband commented how much he enjoyed it. It’s simple to make and will impress whomever is lucky enough to enjoy it with you.
Pecan Trout with Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce
4 trout fillets, skin-on
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rendered butter or high-heat cooking oil (avocado or grapeseed)
2 cups pecans, chopped
Parsley, chopped, for garnish
Orange Beurre Blanc:
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons shallot, minced
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
White pepper, if desired
Lightly salt the trout fillets and dip the flesh side of the fish in flour. Shake off excess flour. In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add butter or oil and let it warm up for one to two minutes. Place two fillets at a time flesh-side down into the skillet. Cook until the fish is golden and crisp, two to four minutes. Using a spatula, turn fillets over. Cook until just opaque in the center, about two minutes. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining fish fillets.
In a clean skillet over medium heat, dry saute the chopped pecans for one to two minutes, until slightly browned and slightly fragrant. Set pecans aside.
To make the sauce, zest half of one orange (about 2 teaspoons) and juice the two oranges (about 3/4 cup). Put the juice, wine and shallots in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Cook until it’s syrupy and almost gone.
On low heat, whisk in the butter continuously and vigorously, 1 tablespoon at a time. Butter is the only emulsifier for this sauce, and if you slowly add it, continuously stirring, the sauce will achieve a silky smooth texture. Do not let the sauce boil, or it will break. Season with salt (and white pepper, if desired).
Plate trout with pecans sprinkled and beurre blanc generously drizzled over it. Finish with chopped parsley as garnish.