Lake Trout Sausages

This is my last lake trout recipe for a while, I promise! Not only do these sausages buy you a couple days before you have to eat them (because you have to eat your trout tartare and your seared trout fillets first, remember?), they also make use of a lot of fish trimmings. I serve them with a simple mix of thinly sliced onion and fennel tossed with salt, sumac, chives, lemon juice and olive oil.

Natural sausage casings can be purchased here. As far as hardware is concerned, if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, the food grinder and sausage stuffer attachments will do a perfect job as long as you don’t plan to start your own commercial operation.

This recipe also makes fish stock. You can freeze the stock and use it for another recipe, such as a fish soup, into which you could blend any leftover trout trimmings, as well.

Cooked trout trimmings
Yields over 10 oz cooked trimmings and 2 qt fish stock

30 oz trout heads and bones
1/2 oz olive oil
3 oz onion
2 garlic cloves
8 oz dry white wine
6 thyme sprigs
3 parsley branches
24 oz water

  • Season the heads and bones with salt and pepper, and sauté in olive oil over high heat in a pressure cooker without the lid. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the white wine, bring to a boil and simmer for a couple minutes. Add the thyme, parsley and water. Cover and pressurize over medium heat, then cook for 20 minutes. Let cool.
  • Pass the liquid through a chinois and reserve for another recipe. Pick the meat from the fish heads and bones. You can keep the lean flesh, the fat, the gelatinous head matter — taste it and decide! Keep in mind this will all be blended in the sausages, so you can err on the adventurous side (do you know what meat parts are used in hot dogs?!). The amount will vary greatly based on your choice, but you should have at least 10 oz. Let cool and refrigerate.

Lake trout sausages
Yields 10 sausages

5 ft sausage casings (natural hog, 1 1/4″-1 3/8″ diameter)
2 oz butter
1 oz Arborio rice
3 oz chicken stock
2 oz ice cubes
10 oz cooked trout trimmings
0.3 oz smoked salt
1 tsp Urfa pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
16 oz cleaned trout fillet
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 oz olive oil

  • Soak the sausage casings in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 of the butter over medium heat, add the rice and cook for 1 minutes. Season with salt, stir in 1/3 of the chicken stock, cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the rest of the chicken stock in 2 more pours, until the rice is cooked. Mix in the rest of the butter and let cool.
  • Transfer the rice to a blender with the ice cubes, trout trimmings, smoked salt, Urfa pepper and onion powder, and blend until smooth.
  • Grind the trout fillet using the large die of the grinder. Combine with the blended mixture and the chives, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the inside and outside of the casings with cold water, pat dry, and stuff using a sausage maker. Refrigerate the sausages, loosely covered, for at least 24 hours.
  • To serve, poke the sausages with a fork on all sides, and sauté in olive oil over low heat, turning regularly.


Pickled Lake Trout

So you’ve caught all that trout, you’ve pan-seared or cured the best fillets, and you still have plenty of fish left. Pickle it! This recipe is perfect for smaller fish, as pickling will dissolve the bones, sparing you the tedious task of removing them. Moreover, the jars can be kept refrigerated for over a month.

If you find that the result tastes too much like vinegar, strain the trout and vegetables and mix them with sour creamthe day before serving (you can add back a little bit of the pickling liquid if you wish).

You could also try adapting my recipe for  Dill and Sour Cream Marinated Shad,  though the jar won’t keep nearly as long with that one.

Pickled trout
Yields 2 pint jars

2 1/2 oz peeled carrot
4 oz peeled shallot
4 thyme sprigs
0.3 oz fennel green, very coarsely chopped
0.6 oz salt
o.5 oz sugar
3 1/2 oz white wine vinegar
2 oz olive oil
2 oz orange juice
20 oz trout fillet, cleaned

  • Slice the carrot and shallot very thinly using a mandoline. Transfer to a bowl and add the thyme and fennel green.
  • Place the salt, sugar, vinegar, oil and orange juice in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour into the bowl and mix.
  • Cut the trout into pieces 2″ to 2 1/2″ long. In sterilized pint jars, arrange successive layers of vegetable mixture and trout, and top with the liquid mixture. Refrigerate for at least 3 days.
  • Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving, and eat with toasted rye bread.

Vodka-Cured Lake Trout

Following our successful Keuka Lake fishing trip, I have a few more trout recipes to share with you. Since I don’t want to freeze fish and I can only eat so much while it’s fresh, I had to come up with a number of curing and marinating plans. This one involves vodka and is particularly successful: instead of giving a marked alcohol taste to the fish, the vodka blends in and produces a very mellow result. If you want to add some smoke flavor, you can substitute half or all of the salt with smoked salt.

The cured fish can be wrapped in plastic film and kept in the fridge for a couple weeks. Serve with pancakes and sour cream.

Vodka-cured lake trout
Yields about 6 servings

1 oz salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 oz sugar
4 oz light olive oil
4 oz vodka
1 large trout fillet, skinless (about 16 oz when cleaned)

  • In a blender, mix the salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil and vodka. Place the trout and the curing mix into a plastic pouch, and refrigerate for 48 hours. Flip every 12 hours, making sure the fish remains completely coated in the liquid.
  • Take the fillet out of the pouch, rinse under cold water and pat dry. Slice very thinly and serve.

Keuka Lake Fishing and Lake Trout Tartare

On a visit to the Finger Lakes last weekend, we spent a morning trout fishing on Keuka Lake with Fisherman John. When he’s not teaching freshwater angling and fly fishing at Cornell University, John is on the lakes nearly every other day all year long, and you can trust him to figure where and when the action is. We had a slow start, but around 10 am the bite picked up for about an hour, which was long enough for us to land 5 nice lakers, all between 18 and 24 inches!

Just like my Quick Seared Trout with Smoked Trout Rillettes, this tartare recipe is simple to make and emphasizes the flavor of the fish. If you want to experience ultimate piscine freshness, you can even mix all the ingredients, put them in a plastic container, take it on the fishing boat and mix in the chopped trout as soon as you catch it! If you prefer the comfort of your dining room, serve the dish with some oven-roasted potatoes and a glass of Keuka Lake Riesling, like this one from Bully Hill Vineyards.

Fennel dice
Yields 2 servings

1/2 oz butter
2 oz small-diced fennel

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the fennel, season with salt, cover and cook until soft, stirring regularly. Let cool and refrigerate.

Zucchini dice
Yields 2 servings

1/2 oz butter
2 oz small-diced baby zucchini
2 thyme sprigs, stems removed

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the zucchini and thyme, season with salt, cover and cook until soft, stirring regularly. Let cool and refrigerate.

Tomato dice
Yields about 2 servings

2 vine tomatoes
piment d’espelette

  • Mark an X into the bottom of each tomato with a knife, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. Peel, cut into quarters and seed. Cut the flesh into small dice, measure exactly 2 oz and reserve the rest for another use. Season with salt and piment d’espelette and refrigerate.

Lake trout tartare
Yields 2 servings

10 oz skinless, boneless trout fillets
1 tbsp top-quality olive oil
black pepper, ground
2 tbsp lemon mayonnaise
2 half egg shells
2 tsp trout roe
fennel dice
zucchini dice
tomato dice

  • Chop the trout fillets into small dice. Mix with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the mayonnaise into the egg shells and top with the trout roe.
  • Arrange all the elements on the plates and serve immediately.