I have always wanted a cast iron skillet and I finally got one for Christmas. I have been making very simple dishes in it, so that I can get the hang of the skillet, but also because I have a very small and temperamental stove and I never know in what kind of a mood it is going to be when I decide to cook something more elaborate.
After about a month I felt like both the skillet and I were ready to venture out of the eggs and the side dishes. I have been a big fan of Bon Appetit Magazine, I get every issue in my mail box, and I admire the passion and the dedication of the group of people who put each issue together. I went through the pile of issues that I had collected and I picked 2 recipes with which I wanted to test my cast iron skillet.
The most amazing thing about cast iron skillets is that they heat evenly, they retain heat very well and you get the tasty brown flavorful bits when deglazing the pan. For that reason I picked a recipe for a pan seared fish with warm orange/citrus vinaigrette (which I modified a bit by switching the black bass for a whole trout and added Meyer lemons to the vinaigrette). This recipe and the skillet allowed me to cook the whole fish evenly and to collect the tasty pieces left in the pan by deglazing it with the vinaigrette.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet that is totally fine. Just use a non-sticking pan.
NOTE: Do not get afraid - you will probably set the fire alarm off several times while cooking the fish, but it is totally worth it.
Trout with citrus vinaigrette and chorizo kale
For the trout and the vinaigrette:
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 whole trout, cleaned and spine removed
• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• ¼ cup of Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
• oranges, juiced
• 1 Meyer lemon, juiced
• 3-4 sprigs of thyme
• Coarsely ground salt and pepper
For the kale and chorizo:
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 oz. cured Spanish chorizo, casing removed and sliced into thin rounds
• 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• bunch kale (e.g. dragon kale), center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 cup water
• Salt and pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until lightly rendered (but not crisp) and the oil turns bright red, about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a plate. Add shallots in the same pan (keeping the oil from the chorizo). Cook stirring occasionally until shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add kale and cook until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add back the chorizo and pour in the wine and the water. Cover partially and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently until the kale is tender, 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the trout with salt and pepper on the inside and outside. Place the sprigs of thyme inside the cavity of the fish. Heat the remaining oil in a large cast iron or a non-stick skillet over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-high, place the fish and cook for about 5 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Turn the fish and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and olives to the skillet. Cook for about a minute. Add the orange and lemon juice and swirl to deglaze. Cook for another minute while spooning some of the warm vinaigrette over the fish.
Remove the pan from the heat and discard the thyme. To remove the fillets, run a sharp knife along the spine of the fish. Using a spatula, remove the first fillet and place on a plate. Flip the fish and remove the second fillet. Place each fillet on a plate and spoon the warm vinaigrette over each one. Serve with a side of kale with chorizo.
How to filet a cooked fish
If your local fish market does not remove the spine of the fish for you prior to cooking it, you can do it after it is cooked. The cooked meat makes the removing of the spine and the small bones (and trout has a lot of them) very easy.
See the images and steps below.
These 2 images are courtesy of Bon Appeit Magazine: