Whole Trout with Apple Mustard & Charred Cabbage Apple Slaw

After Thanksgiving when you’re turkeyed out from all the soup, sandwiches and tetrazzini, you need something that’s completely different. Consider seafood and let this be the dish that converts you to cooking whole fish, which may require a trip to the fishmonger’s or seafood market. Since North Carolina has one of the most diverse seafood industries in the nation, we encourage you to check out GotToBeNC's Seafood Directory for more info on a local company to find your whole fish!
From “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South,” by Vivian Howard (Little Brown, 2016).

4 whole rainbow trout
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
20 turns of the pepper mill or scant 1 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 lemon, sliced thin
4 sprigs sage
4 sprigs rosemary
⅔ cup Apple Mustard (recipe below)
Charred Cabbage Apple Slaw (recipe below)

Season each fish, inside and out, with 3 tablespoons olive oil, black pepper, and salt. Stuff the cavity of each fish with lemon slices, 1 sprig sage, and 1 sprig rosemary.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Once it’s shimmering, add 2 trout and brown them on both sides. If your pan is nice and hot, it should take about 3 minutes per side. Transfer them to a baking sheet. Add remaining oil and brown the remaining trout. Slide all four trout onto the middle rack of your oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Serve warm with the apple mustard and slaw.

Yield: 4 servings

Apple Mustard
This apple mustard is like an apple butter with an edge. It’s not meant for toast or biscuits, but it’s a great counterpoint to chicken, pork, or a full-flavored fish like trout or salmon. You do use the entire apple (seeds, skin, core and all) to make this butter.

1 ½ pounds apples, diced, skin and core intact (6 cups)
2 yellow onions, diced
½ small orange, sliced thin, seeds removed
1 cup apple cider
1 cup water
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
⅓ cup smooth Dijon mustard
⅓ cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon salt
1 star anise
4 cloves
3 sprigs thyme

In a 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, combine the apples and their cores, onions, orange slices, cider, water, sugar, mustard, vinegar, cayenne, and salt. Put the star anise, cloves and thyme in a sachet and drop it in. Bring it up to a boil, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook for an hour, checking periodically to make sure the pan is not dry.

Remove the sachet and transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and blend until totally smooth. Put the apple butter back in the Dutch oven and cook uncovered on low heat another 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt or brown sugar to your liking.

Yield: 4 cups

Charred Cabbage Apple Slaw

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced, into ⅛-inch rounds
1 small head green, purple, or savoy cabbage
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
1 large Fuji or other crisp eating apple
2 ribs celery, sliced into ⅛-inch slices on the bias
10 turns of the pepper mill, or scant ¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
½ cup Salt-and-Butter-Roasted Pecans (recipe below)

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, water, and the honey till the honey dissolves. Add the red onion. Set aside.

Cut the cabbage into 12 wedges, leaving the core attached. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. Sear the cabbage on the cut sides till they are charred, not golden brown—dark and charred. Season the cabbage with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside to cool.

Just before you assemble your slaw, cut the 4 sides of the apple off its core. Then slice the apple into ⅛-inch-thick slices.

In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, the onions with their liquid, apple, celery, black pepper, lemon juice, dill and remaining salt. Let this mingle while you cook the fish. Just before serving, stir in the pecans

Yield: 5 cups