As fall approaches and the main grilling season comes to an end, I would like to share one of my favorite recipes with you before you pack your grill away. It is whole trout stuffed with lemon and herbs, wrapped in bacon.
The great advantage of grilling fish this way is that you don’t have to worry about burning the delicate skin on the grill or about the fish falling apart. Once the fish is cooked, the skin comes off easily and you can quickly pull the flesh right off the bones. We often make this dish at home on our regular grill—but we often also make it during summer vacation when we are camping. It’s a great option for eating healthy while away from your regular kitchen. What could be better for a mellow summer (or Indian summer) evening?
As a side note, I have prepared this dish many times with trout. However, I’m sure it would be just as successful with other white fish such as: croaker, sea bass, branzino, flounder, whiting, shad, sablefish, sturgeon, or perch.
In addition to your fish, you will need: salt, pepper, lemon slices, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, bacon, and some toothpicks.
Wash the fish carefully in running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Salt and pepper only the inside of each fish. Then stuff with rosemary, thyme, and lemon slices (half slices work best for most trout). On occasion, when I had no access to fresh herbs, I have also made this with a paste of dried rosemary and thyme, which I ground together and let soak in lemon juice for several minutes to rehydrate.
Grill each trout for 6-9 minutes each side depending on the size. The trout is done when the fish is firm and the eye is opaque.
How do I fillet it?
Please see my post on How to: fillet a whole cooked fish.
Can I/should I eat the skin?
It’s a matter of taste. Some people love the skin—especially when it’s crispy. Others won’t touch it.
Can I/should I eat the bacon?
Eating any grilled meat—especially charred meat—carries certain associated health risks. Meat develops cancer-causing chemicals called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) when charred. This phenomenon is not limited to red meat and also occurs for fish or chicken if charred. Dieticians recommend avoiding well-done or charred meats of all kinds. The critical point, here, is that the bacon will drip fat onto your grill, causing the grill to spit flames and flame-broil your fish. The bacon will protect the fish itself, but the bacon itself will likely be charred. For health reasons, therefore, I cannot recommend eating the bacon. Whether you’ll be able to resist is another story altogether…
- 2 whole trout, cleaned
- salt and pepper
- 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- 1 organic lemon, divided (half cut into slices for stuffing, half cut into wedges for serving)
- 8-10 slices of bacon
- Wash the fish inside and out in cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity only. You don't need to season the outside because the bacon does that for you. Then stuff each fish with 2–3 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme and a few lemon slices (half slices work best for most trout).
- Wrap each trout in 4–5 slices of bacon and secure with toothpicks. Make sure the bacon is wrapped tightly around the ribcage opening to hold in all the goodies. I find it works best to overlap the bacon slices slightly and secure the toothpicks in a kind of running stitch, but you may find a different method.
- Preheat and oil your grill lightly. Grill each trout for 6-9 minutes each side depending on the size. The trout is done when the fish is firm and the eye is opaque.
- Serve with grilled vegetables—such as zucchini, peppers, eggplant, or onions—and lemon wedges.