8 speckled trout fillets |
8 sheets of aluminum foil, to size
4 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning*
1 stick melted butter
4 fresh lemons, juiced
Zest of the lemons
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup ranch dressing
8 tbsp. imitation bacon chips
4 cups mashed potatoes or steamed rice
4 servings cucumber, carrot and tomato salad
First, fillet the fish and wash it thoroughly under cool running water. Then, using several layers of absorbent paper towels, pat each fillet “bone dry” and set it aside on a platter.
Next, tear off 8 sheets of aluminum foil to accommodate the size of the trout fillets (individual baking potato sheets work well if you can find them at your neighborhood supermarket). Then, after placing one fillet on each of the sheets, prep the fish—in steps—as follows:
1—Sprinkle evenly with the seafood seasoning (you should use approximately a half teaspoon on each fillet and rub it in well with your hands);
2—Evenly pour about 2 tablespoons of warm butter over each fillet;
3—Drizzle the juice of a half lemon, along with a pinch of the zest, over each fillet;
4—Sprinkle on about a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes on each fillet;
5—Then top each fillet with a uniform coating of 2 tablespoons of ranch dressing.
At this point, agitate the foil sheet gently to level out the seasonings and toppings. Then roll each fillet tightly inside of the foil, seal it up, and set it in a single layer on a shallow sheet pan. Then slide the pan onto the center rack of a preheated 400-degree oven and bake the fillets for 30 minutes. When they’re done, remove them from the oven and let them rest on the countertop for about 5 minutes before serving.
When you’re ready to eat, place two fillets on each plate, slit the foil open, pipe on a generous portion of mashed potatoes, crown with a scattering of bacon bits, and complete with a cold and crispy cucumber, carrot, and cherry tomato salad topped with Italian vinaigrette. The fish and seasonings will yield a rich, almost creamy sauce that truly complements whatever side dishes it accompanies.
Warning—you’re going to make this a lot!
1—This recipe can also be done using redfish, sheepshead, or drum fillets. Just make certain that the fish is trimmed meticulously and the bloodlines are completely removed.
2—The fillets may be prepared a day in advance. Simply place them on individual pieces of aluminum foil, season with the spices, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ranch dressing, wrap them tightly, and stash in the bottom of the refrigerator overnight. The marinade will significantly enhance the flavor of the fish when baked the next day.
3—If you don’t have seafood seasoning on hand, you can make your own mixture of salt and black pepper and use it as a substitute.
4—The salad I recommend you serve with this dish is one made with slivered carrots, peeled and de-seeded cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes, chilled and tossed with a homemade Italian vinaigrette and sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.
5—Lemon zest is the outermost skin of the lemon, scraped off in ultra-thin layers with a zesting tool so as not to include the bitter white pithe. Only small amounts should be used in recipes because the flavor and strength is intense.
6—This dish can also be done outdoors on the grill. Fire up the pit with heat on one side only (you can use either charcoal or gas). Then simply place the foil-wrapped fish atop the grate on the side that is away from the flames. What happens is the fish cooks gently—and doesn’t burn—by radiated heat instead of direct heat. Depending upon the grill, however, you may have to vary the cooking time somewhat.