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Smokey Trout Hash

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As I mentioned in the post prior to this one, this past Saturday (April 10, 2010) was Opening Day of Trout Season in RI.  Alex and Bill brought home three nice sized rainbow trout – all three just under a pound.  Bill grilled them, using lump charcoal and some cedar scraps in the smoker, and the resulting meal was wonderful.  We ate two of the three trout (all three of the heads, thanks to Julia's usual resourcefulness in that department), and here's what I did with the one remaining leftover trout body.

After our meal on Saturday, I gently removed the meat from the skeleton and packed it away in a conainer in the fridge.  I could have gone through and removed the pin bones then, but there were too many other things going on, so I didn't bother.

Here's the fish flesh:

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On Sunday morning, I got out the fish and a few other things so I could make hash.  I put a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and added about a quarter of a red bell pepper, diced, along with the equivalent of a shallot, or maybe, MAYBE half of a small onion, also diced.  I sprinkled some Kosher salt on the whole thing, stirred it around for a moment, and then just let the vegetables cook a bit.

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I also peeled a large russet potato and cut it into roughly 3/4" cubes.  I put this in a pot of cold water, added salt, brought it to a boil, and cooked it all until the potatoes were tender.  Maybe ten minutes, probably less.

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While the vegetables were all cooking, I picked through the trout, looking for pin bones.  Now, if you eat salmon, you have probably heard of and dealt with pin bones.  Pin bones are a line of bones that run through part of the upper body of the trout or salmon, kind of perpendicular to the flesh.  They aren't rib bones.  And if you filet the fish, you still have to go through, bone by bone, and either yank out each pin bone (if it's salmon, the bones are bigger, easier to see and easier to grab) or wait until the fish is cooked, and then, if it's trout, you basically eat with your fingers so you can peel apart the layers of flesh and pull out the bones.  It's also a good idea to take small bites and chew very attentively.

That was all fine when we were sitting around the table eating lunch the day before, but for breakfast hash, I wanted to get rid of the bones.  So I went through all the flesh and pulled it apart into very small bits just to make sure there were no bones.  And these bones are hard to fine – they're very thin, almost like cat whisker or a think strand of white hair.  They blend in well with the flesh, and are a bit flexible, too.  And if you're not careful, you can be fooled into thinking that that bit of something pointing up is just fish, when in fact it's another little tiny bone. 

In the picture below, for example, the two left strands sticking up are bones.  The rest of the jaggedy-looking part is fish, but you can see how, if you're rushing, the shorter bone could look like a thin shredded bit of fish.  And that's my thumb.  So you can see how small the bones are.

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Anyway, once you've picked through all the fish and you are pretty sure you got all the bones out, there's not much left in the bowl except this:

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And what is that almost clear, jelly-like stuff?  It's aspic.  Mwahahahahaha.  (Hi, Susan!)

There wasn't much, so I just threw it in with the fish for flavor.  It melts when you're cooking the hash, so don't get all squeamish on me.

Oh, and here are all the bones I found:

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Nice, huh?  But here's the payoff – trout that won't jab you in the back of the throat.

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Okay, the red pepper and onion are ready, the potatoes are cooked.  Drain them and add them to the onions and pepper, maybe mash them a bit, and mix them all together.  Then add the trout. 

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I also added in a bit more butter.  It tastes good.  Then, after combining everything in the pan, so the trout was evenly distributed through all the vegetables, gently pat the hash down so it's fairly flat and let it cook for a bit so it browns a bit on one side.  Then, flip the hash over and brown it some more.  If you're not using a non-stick pan, you could even throw the whole thing in the oven if you wanted to. 

Mine didn't brown a lot – well, it did, but that part stuck to the pan and when I scraped at it (gently, so as not to damage the non-stick surface), it came up in little bits and didn't look very pretty.  I didn't take a picture.  And I would advise using a stainless steel pan instead, so you can get in there with a stainless steel spatula and scrape the heck out of it.  I bet it would have come out better.  Oh well. 

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Once your hash is done, keep the flame on low while you poach your eggs (if you're having poached eggs) or fry them or whatever you might need to do with eggs before you eat them.  And then, AS SOON AS YOUR EGGS ARE COOKED, spoon a portion of the hash onto a plate, top with the eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper if you so choose, and eat.  Or, if you're eating breakfast WITH someone, pass that first plate to him or her and serve yourself last.  At least, that's the polite way of doing it, or so I've heard. 

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This hash has a milder flavor than corned beef hash.  But we could definitely taste the smoke, which was nice.  And another nice thing – it was much less heavy, less filling, than corned beef hash is. 

Okay, now try not to drool on your keyboard.

Thanks.

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