Posted by: acooksca | 01/27/2010

Truchas Rellenas y Empapeladas  (Stuffed Trout in Paper)
From The Spanish Cook:  pub:1898

Stuffed Trout in Parchment

El Cocinero Espanol, published in San Francisco in 1898, was the first cookbook written in the United States by a Hispanic. It is also the most complete record of the cooking of Californios, early Spanish-speaking natives of California (see the article above: The Ranchero Kitchen).

The author, Encarnacion Pinedo, was from an upper class Ranchero family and had the means, education and desire to write a book of 1,000 entries. Here is one of her recipes that looks a lot like modern California Cuisine. This is reprinted from the 2003 translated version by Dan Strehl. Typical of the era, the instructions and measurements are not precise:

Truchas rellenas y empapeladas
After cleaning and scaling the trout, stuff them with ground almonds, olives, ground peppers, chilies, onions, and chopped parsley, seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, capers, oil and vinegar.
    When stuffed, cover them with grated bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, sprinkle with olive oil, and wrap in paper spread with lard.
    Put them on the grill to roast, turning them carefully.
    They also can be fried in lard or baked in butter without wrapping them in paper.

The “grill” that Encarnacion would have used was a different piece of equipment then today’s’ easily-to-control backyard Webber. Huge bar-b-ques built to cook sides of beef over the variable live-fire of oak logs would destroy the tender flesh of a trout. She used layers of a heavy paper to seal the delicate fish into a protective packet. Bread crumbs between the paper and the trout allows for a layer of hot air to gently “roast” the fish and keep the skin from sticking to the paper.

By baking stuffed trout in parchment paper we can achieve the intended results of gently cooking in a sealed envelope. Butter the parchment and eliminate the crumbs for a contemporary version. Modern gas and charcoal grills are easier on fish then in Encarnacion’s time so you can place the trout straight on the grill (oil the skin well). Or brush the stuffed trout with butter or oil and bake on a sheet pan, covered with foil, so the fish doesn’t dry out in cooking.

Stuffed Trout baked in Parchment

Stuffing:
2 Poblano chilies (or other large, mild fresh green chili)
1 red bell pepper, large dice
1/4 cup raw almonds
¼ cup green olives, rinsed
½ red onion cut into large dice
½ cup fresh parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Assembling:
4 cleaned and scaled whole trout
Salt and pepper
4 10”x12” pieces parchment paper
½ stick butter, room temperature
4 pieces of parchment paper, 12” x 15”
4 teaspoons soft butter

Heat a broiler on high. Place the fresh chilies and red bell pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and blackened (about 8 minutes). Remove at once to a small bowl and seal with plastic wrap. This helps the chilies and pepper steam their skins loose as they cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape off as much skin as you can and brush away the seeds.

Place all stuffing ingredients in a food processor (or hand chop). Use the pulse button to chop until ingredients are blended in a medium-small dice (about the size of a pea). Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Stuffing can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature before stuffing the trout.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the pieces of parchment flat on a work surface and butter each with a teaspoon of butter. Pat the trout dry and salt and pepper the skin-side. Place a trout on each paper, skin-side down. Stuff and close the fish. Gather the paper over the fish and crimp tightly leaving a small air space between the top of the fish and the paper. Twist the ends of the paper closed to form a sealed packet. Place packets on a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 20 minutes.

Use a pair of scissors and carefully open the packets (to avoid the steam). Slide the fish onto dinner plates, pour over the juices and serve at once.

Encarnacion’s Kitchen: Mexican Recipes from Ninteteenth-Century California: Selections from Encarnacion Pinedo’s El Cocinero Espanol: edited and translated by Dan Strehl, pub. 2003 University of California Press California Studies in Food and Culture series

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