When I was a young teen, my parents had their very first flush of expendable income. Once a year, they would pack my sister and I up, drop us off at Aunt Roses's and take a cheap flight to New Orleans, stay in a cheap motel and proceed to listen to jazz and dine like kings. Their last stop before the flight home was always Brennan's for brunch. They came home with matches from Brennan's and Mardi Gras trinkets which my sister and I treasured.
This week, the bloggers celebrating Gourmet's 50 Female Game-Changers in Food salute Ella Brennan. Brennan was still in high school when her brother bought a restaurant in the French Quarter - The Vieux Carre. She didn't think much of her brother's investment. The restaurant was shabby - with food that followed the decor. Her brother challenged her with,
"Well, why don't you come along and help me with it?"
And so she did. And the rest is history. Ella Brennan is now known as "The Queen of New Orleans cuisine." Sixty-four years later, her family owns a dozen New Orleans restaurant and Ella Brennan is the matriarch. Just as she did decades ago, Brennan continues to be the student and teacher and puts in regular appearances at her restaurants. She believes in developing local, American cuisine and providing exemplary service - the perfect restaurateur. Read more about this depression baby's climb up the culinary ladder here.
I chose Ella Brennan's Trout with Pecans Ella Brennan developed the recipe with Chef Paul Prudhomme. It was their answer to trout amondine that had currently swept the culinary world. They thought - almonds? What about pecans? There's a forest of pecan trees in the south! A version of this is still on the menu at Brennan's Commander Palace.
In the end, I couldn't do it all - there was just too much butter. I am living with "He-who-is-on-the-first-diet-of-his-life" and is miserable! So I am trying to ease him into dinner time. I did one trout fillet the "Ella Brennan" way and another trout fillet the "Italian way." See which one you like - they offer different sides of the coin - but combine to be on the money.
Trout with Pecans - serves 6
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons roasted pecans
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup shrimp or fish stock
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 sticks of butter, softened
3 tablespoons salt-free Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
6-8 trout fillets
I am giving you the entire recipe - but I skipped the sauce. Sauteing the fish in butter and then spreading pecan butter on top of the warm fish was enough butter for me! But as you will see below - you are supposed to saute in butter, spread pecan butter over the fish and then top with the sauce. Oh my!
1. Pecan butter: Place all pecan butter ingredients into the container of a food processor or blender. Cover and process to a smooth puree. Set aside.
2. Sauce: In a small bowl, combine flour and 2 Tbs. water to make a smooth paste. In a small saucepan, bring stock, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice to a light boil.
3. Whisk about 1/3 cup of the hot stock mixture into the flour paste. Then gradually pour the flour mixture back into the saucepan, stirring constantly with the whisk, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time. Keep sauce warm.
4. To prepare the fish, blend the Creole seasoning and salt into the flour in a wide bowl. Beat the eggs with the milk in a second wide bowl.
5. Dust the trout lightly with the seasoned flour. Pass it through the egg wash, and then dredge it through the seasoned flour.
6. In a large skillet, heat half of the clarified butter over medium-high heat until a sprinkling of flour sizzles in it. Add three fillets of trout and sate three or four minutes, until golden brown, turning once. Transfer fillets to serving platter and keep warm. Add the rest of the butter to the pan and sate the remaining trout.
7. Spread pecan butter over trout, sprinkle with roasted pecans, and top with the sauce.
I won't lie to you - even without the rich buttery sauce this was absolutely delicious. Sated, sweet sighs at the dinner table told me so. The pecans caramelized a bit during the saute and nobody ever said a butter sauce didn't tantalize. It's wonderfully wicked.
Now, the Italian way:
For each trout fillet, whisk 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Add: 1-2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, or oregano or basil or parsley or a combination of your favorite fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 degrees F until done - 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the trout.) If I was thinking, I would have thrown some roasted, chopped hazelnuts on top.
A song of spring.
A word about pecans: in days of yore, I did summer stock in Flat Rock, North Carolina. I met a friend who later stayed with me in my tiny NYC apartment. As a thank-you - she sent me a huge box of fresh pecans - just picked from her tree. I brought them to my family and we wondered what to do with all those pecans. In the end, we simply ate them over the course of one weekend. I had never had a pecan that didn't come in a package and the fresh nutmeats were a welcome revelation. I can still remember my fingers and toes waking up to each rich bite.
A word about diets: Years ago, my cousin and her husband went on a diet together. She went to Weight Watchers and he gave up his daily Dove Bar. Guess who lost more weight?
Please check out what the other bloggers are doing for Week 33 of Female Chef Gourmet Game Changers. And if you want to join in the fun, e-mail Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary started this delectable journey.
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds,