A Perfect Valentine's Day Dinner -- Oat-crusted trout with pecans and dried cranberries

"Carpe diem” does not mean “fish of the day

— Anon.
Cast your vote for Oat-crusted trout with pecans and dried cranberries

My dear friend from church, Mary (a sister in Jesus, and in carbs), told me today that she and her husband are going on a short trip to the "other side of the mountains" to do a bit of trout fishing. (Actually, he does the fishing and she brings along a good book).

Her comment about trout reminded me of an amazing meal I had years ago at a favorite "get-away-from-it-all" destination for the Carb Diva family--Skamania Lodge.

Skamania Lodge
Skamania Lodge

As their website states:

Skamania Lodge is a magnificent mountain resort nestled on 175 wooded acres, is located in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The rustic yet elegant, grand mountain Lodge is located just 45 miles east of Portland, Oregon, on the Washington side of the Columbia River. "Skamania" is the Chinook Indian word for "swift water". The resort, which overlooks the Columbia River is aptly named, as there are also over 70 waterfalls nearby, including the famous Multnomah Falls, which, at 620 feet, is the fifth highest waterfall in the United States.

In addition to the incredible scenery, they have an amazing staff of chefs in their kitchen. On our last visit, we dined on "Oat Crusted Trout with Brown Butter, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans".

oat-crusted trout
oat-crusted trout | Source
  • Oat-Crusted Trout with Brown Butter, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans

For the trout:

  • 4 10-ounce rainbow trout, butterflied and boned
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared shredded hash browns (i.e. "Simply Potatoes"in the refrigerated section of your grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Combine potatoes, herbs, and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mix equally between the 4 trout and fill the fish with the potato/herb mix. Place fish in a pan and cover the stuffed fish with the buttermilk.

For the oat crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients.

For the vegetables:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 10 shitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (for sautéing)

Julienne all vegetables and combine. Set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves

Cook butter slowly until it turns brown and has a nutty smell. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon. Add the cranberries and pecans. Keep warm.

Final assembly:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Roll stuffed trout in the oat mixture. Saute' in a small amount of the browned butter sauce.
  • Place in a shallow baking dish and bake until done, about 10 minutes.
  • While the fish is baking, saute' the vegetables and mushrooms in the olive oil in a medium sauté pan.
  • Place the vegetables on the bottom of 4 serving plates.
  • Place the trout on top of the vegetables and pour the brown butter sauce over the fish on each plate.

What makes this recipe work?

I love the interplay of tastes and textures in this recipe--there is

  • sweetness of pecans
  • tang of dried cranberries
  • delicate softness of fresh cooked trout
  • nutty flavor of browned butter
  • crunch of toasted oats
  • the interplay of soft, buttery trout and potatoes vs. the crunch of oats, pecans, and tender-crisp vegetables.

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