Panfried Trout with Tartar Sauce

Campfire food in your own kitchen.
TIME 25 minutes
MAKES 2 servings
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons chopped pickles, capers, or a combination
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for panfrying
2 whole trout (about 12 ounces each), cleaned, head and tail removed
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 lemons, quartered, for serving

1 In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to a day or keep at room temperature while you cook the trout. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

2 Put about ¼ inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the fish inside and out with salt and pepper. Combine the cornmeal and flour on a large plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss with a fork. Dredge both sides of the fish in the cornmeal mixture.

3 When the oil is hot, carefully lay the fish in the pan. Cook, turning once, until it is nicely browned on both sides and the interior turns white, 8 to 12 minutes total. Adjust the heat so the fish sizzles without burning and add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the pan looks dry.

4 Drain on the paper towels and serve immediately with the tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

  • Panfried Trout with Bacon: Roughly chop 4 ounces thick-cut bacon. In Step 2, add the bacon to the pan with the oil and cook, stirring, until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and continue with the recipe. Serve the fish with the bacon crumbled on top.
  • Lemon-Roasted Whole Trout. Try this instead of the main recipe: Heat the oven to 425°F. After seasoning the fish, thinly slice 1 lemon crosswise and fill the opening in the belly of the trout. Add several fresh parsley and thyme sprigs if you like. Smear the fish with 2 tablespoons olive oil and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the fish is opaque and flaky, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the fish drizzled with the pan juices.

  • The whole trout that you are likely to find will already be scaled, gutted, and perhaps even butterflied. They may, however, still have the head and tail on. I think it’s kind of cool to cook the whole thing, but if you want them gone, just cut them off with a sharp knife.
  • The cooked fish pulls away from the bones easily, leaving you with a fillet.

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