Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pecan Crusted Trout...or, the end to being a Short Order Cook

We have one child. Dinnertime has been an evolving situation. When she was a baby, we made our own dinners, usually something relatively healthy, and gave her something she would eat. It was pretty easy for awhile. I could open the baby food jar, or as she got a little bit older, throw some eggs in a pan, or macaroni and cheese, pizza, applesauce, or some other "white" food she would eat. I realized as she got older that she needed to expand her horizons. I started to name the vegetables..."Ernie Green Beans!", "Baby Bop Broccoli!", and "Elmo Carrots!". For some reason, that worked for awhile, and she would gobble them up, as long as they weren't "spicy" (or in other words, as long as they were devoid of any kind of flavor). The only problem was that J wouldn't eat the tasteless, watery vegetables that H liked. That meant I was still making at least two different dinners, but often three since J is a meat and potatoes man and I am almost a vegetarian. The short order cook phase lasted longer than I planned, but finally, we chartered a sailboat for a family vacation, when H was 8 years old. The boat came with a chef, who we all fell in love with...Chante'.

Chante' was an incredible person...lovely, sweet, adventurous, hard working, inventive, and a wonderful chef. H was totally enthralled with her. The first meal she made for us was a beautiful Cranberry, Almond and Blue Cheese Quiche. H took one look at it and immediately asked for peanut butter and jelly. Chante' made her a sandwich, lovingly, but I took H aside and mentioned that Chante' was working so hard that we might need to at least try her dishes, before asking for something else. So that was it...suddenly, H was trying, and LOVING, tuna, lamb, snapper, shrimp, lobster, and all kinds of colorful vegetables that she had never tried before. H never looked back. She will now (at age 15) try anything at least once, and her palate is a lot more adventurous than either of her parents'.

So my job now became to coerce my husband to try new foods, especially vegetables other than potatoes, corn, or (cringe) canned wax beans. I roast vegetables two or three times a week, and onions, butternut squash, potatoes and asparagus are our favorites. J will eat the potatoes, onions, asparagus (as long as it's overdone to the point of dry and crispy) and sometimes red peppers. I also steam green beans and saute with a little bit of butter and almonds and he'll eat that. Until about two years ago, the only protein dishes he would eat included red meat, lamb chops, burned (seriously, black like charcoal) chicken, and sometimes swordfish. Now he'll eat my sesame seed crusted Tuna, marinated shrimp, and thanks to our favorite restaurant in North Carolina, (The Brown Trout), Pecan Crusted Trout!

So now, after almost 18 years of marriage, every now and then I only prepare ONE thing for dinner, and we all eat it. Tonight was one of those rare times, and it was fabulous!

Pecan Crusted Trout

1 cup lightly toasted pecans, chopped (or any handful of nuts you have around the house)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (plain)
4 TBSP fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TBSP chopped rosemary leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
4 trout fillets
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
Spray butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients, seasonings, and herbs. Brush each trout fillet with the softened butter. Sprinkle the buttered side of each fillet with the pecan topping and press firmly with your hand to completely cover each fillet. (J likes his Cajun style, so I will sprinkle his with Emeril's Cajun spice mix also). Spray each crumb topped fillet with spray butter to moisten.

Brush a foil lined baking pan with the remaining butter. Place the unbuttered side of the trout (skin side down) on the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the flesh is firm and flaky.