Sunday, January 22, 2012

by popular demand: trota alla Piemontese

If you've been following us on our FaceBook page, you'll know we've started something of a winter ritual: Champagne Sunday Lunch.  Though I'm not sure it needs to be confined to only the winter.  What about spring?  Summer?  Autumn?  Not only does it have a lovely ring to it, it does definitely help get us through the remainder of the winter doldrums, that post holiday lassitude that is tied to the still short days that quickly grow so dark in the afternoon.  I imagine it will help get us through our fifth season: Mud, and once we hit April and and the farm is back in full swing, we'll need something to  buoy our weary bones. Funny how Champagne does that. 

It is one of the many reasons we love Champagne, and I should specify here  "grower Champagne" or "farmer fizz", the stuff grown and cared for by the producer him or herself, the grower ushering three hundred and sixty-five days of a landscape into a bottle.  No Big House sparkle all about consistency from vintage to vintage here.  We're looking for the differences in vintage, the idiosyncracies, the story.

We also love Sunday Lunch.  It is our Friday (since our "weekend" occurs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday), the end of our restaurant work week and we generally don't need to be in to the restaurant quite so early in the afternoon, so it allows us to linger at home for a little bit longer.   Sunday Lunch conjurs long mid-day meals with family and friends, homely, tasty food, balast for body and soul for the ensuing fretwork of days to come.  

For our first Champagne Sunday Lunch of 2012, we prepared a dish from the Piemonte, pan-roasted trout with raisins, rosemary, sage, and Balsamic.  We were experimenting with dishes to serve at our upcoming wine tasting dinner with Gian Carlo Nada in February.  The Ada Nada vineyard specializes in Barabaresco and we were trying this trout with their 2006 single vineyard Valeirano.  The dish itself proved to be a worthy companion to the '06, layers of flavor, direct yet searching to meet each other and the palate.  Soul food.  

We've adapted a recipe we found in our library from Italian Regional Cooking by Lotte Mendelsohn with origanal recipes from Bea Lazarro.

For two.  Soak a quarter cup of raisins in warm water.  Chop one stalk of celery, an onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Pour a few glugs of good olive oil to well coat a cast iron skillet and add the vegetables.  Season well with salt and pepper.  (When Italians cook they use a lot of olive oil, so don't be shy.  It is often the secret to the silkiness of their dishes.)  Braise. 

Season well a whole fresh trout, then add the fish to the skillet setting it on top of the soft vegetables. (We filleted the fish first and rested it on top of the braise as if it were still whole).

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of good Balsamic vinegar over the fish, add the drained, plumped raisins, about 2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind, and a couple sprigs each of bruised sage and rosemary. Cook for about 5 minutes on side, then turn the fish and cook for about another 4, or until just done.   

Remove the fish to a platter and cover to keep warm.  Add a little butter and/or olive oil  to the braised vegetables (enough to make the vegetables "saucy" along with the pan juices) and cook down until a nice consistency (this will be a light sauce).  Pour over the warm fish and sit down with a glass of L. Aubrey et Fils Premier Cru Brut NV, or AdaNada Barbaresco Valeirano '06. 

That's what we did. 


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