Strout a la Navarra (Campfire Trout)
As recently featured in our seasonal regional newsletter, we are thrilled to share a recipe that’s ideal to pair with Cariñena wines for spring. Strout a La Navarra (Campfire Trout), from The Basque Book: A Love Story in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito by Alex Raij, is a delicious dish packed full of amazing flavor. Not only are we sharing a step-by-step guide on how to make it, but we also received insights about the recipe from the Chef. See below for more details and don’t forget to sign up for our next newsletter issue here, so you don’t miss what’s coming next!
Strout a la Navarra (Campfire Trout) By Alex Raij
Trout is a mainstay of Navarran cooking, as is the use of jamón as a condiment. Here, I use jamón slices to protect the tender fish from drying out, with the added benefit of basting the trout with the salty, savory taste that is a trademark of Spanish ham. This dish is usually served with diced jamón in the refrito (frying oil), but when I first heard about it, I immediately pictured it as the campfire-style trout of my midwestern upbringing. The first time I made it splayed open and each loin topped with jamón, Eder (my husband) thought it was hilarious. It is a true signature of Txikito and outsells even our most rarified seafood dishes. The high notes of a great vinegar make all the difference here and changing the vinegar each time you cook the trout can be a good way to bring variety to a dish that promises to become a family favorite.
• 2 (1–2 pounds) whole butterflied trout (Ask your fishmonger to do this.)
• Kosher salt • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for searing
• 4 slices jamón ibérico
• 6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 dried guindilla pepper or árbol chile
• 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 to 2 tablespoons Garnacha wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the trout inside and out with salt and coat the skin side with oil. Heat a cast-iron frying pan or other ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan lightly, and when the oil begins to smoke, add 1 trout, skin side down and splayed open. Cook, shaking the pan back and forth constantly to ensure the fish doesn’t stick, for about 1 minute, until you know the skin is free and won’t stick. Working quickly, lay a slice of jamón on each fillet of the trout, then cook for 1 more minute. Slide the fish onto a large baking sheet and repeat the previous steps in the frying pan with the second fish and the remaining jamón. Bake the trout for 4 to 6 minutes, until the flesh is firm but still pink when you peek under the jamón (cooked medium). While the trout are baking, combine the ⅔ cup oil and garlic in a small saucepan and warm over medium-high heat for 35 to 40 seconds, until the garlic is barely golden. Remove from the heat and add the pepper, parsley, and a pinch of salt. Serve the trout family style, adding a splash of vinegar to each fish and spooning the garlic oil over the top.
Yields: 4 Servings
About the author
Alex Raij is half of the husband and wife team behind Txikito, Chelsea’s acclaimed Basque restaurant; El Quinto Pino, named the Absolute Best Tapas by New York Magazine; La Vara, exploring Jewish and Moorish influence in southern Spain; and Saint Julivert, a petit fisherie inspired by ports of call near and far. Alex’s cookbook, The Basque Book: A Love Story in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito, is a deeply personal writer’s debut inspired by the home cooking traditions of the Basque country. Alex distinguishes herself by creating dishes that capture a sense of place without giving up a sense of personal intimacy. The result is delicious, inimitable, and authentic on all levels.