I usually pick the country and the recipe I am executing each week. This time, when Vera and I decided to travel to Europe, I asked my wife Anne to not only choose the country but also the recipe.
I figured I would avoid some criticism regarding the fact that I tend to choose countries that are “too exotic” to her taste!
She immediately chose … Luxembourg! Luxembourg? Really? First, why in hell did she choose this tiny country? I discovered that her grandmother lived there as a child and her cooking was therefore greatly influenced by this country and region. In the process, I asked her what recipe she had set her sights on. She replied immediately: a damson plum tart, emblematic recipe of the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which has just over 500,000 residents! I would have gladly made a damson plum tart (quetscheflued in Luxembourgish) but finding damson plums in Los Angeles would have been a perilous task, if not a “Mission: impossible” and I am way too tall to play the role of a midget like Tom Cruise.
I had no choice, I had to say yes to her second choice! She chose the f’rell am rèisleck … after a quick search, I realized that it was a trout in Riesling. Here we go! Now, we were already on more familiar ground. Indeed, any alcoholic recipe could not receive a warmer welcome from me. Trout and Riesling should not be hard to find.
One of the ingredients of the recipe gave me a hard time though: chervil. Although this herb is widely used in Europe, I had never seen it in stores or farmers’ markets around here. Fortunately, this was not the key element of the recipe, but as you may start to realize, I am a die-hard perfectionist. I called at least a dozen local grocery stores and fine markets. I even called a store known for its fresh, organic and variety of expensive food: Whole Foods. My conversation can be summarized to:
Mike: Are you guys carrying chervil?
Whole Foods: What is it? A vitamin or supplement?
After that phone call, I realized that I had to give up on the idea of finding chervil in this brainless city. But I’ll still keep an eye out for it during my visits to local farmers’ markets …
In the end, even without the pinch of chervil, this recipe was a great success. I rarely cook fish in the oven, but this recipe made me want to try other sauces … with alcohol of course! The mixture of cream, tarragon and Riesling is just out of this world. And the trout was cooked to perfection, tender and juicy. Okay, I’ll stop there, I can’t keep on drooling as my screen is not waterproof!
- 2 large trouts (or 4 small trouts)
- 8 oz. Riesling (dry white wine)
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ bunch parsley
- 3 shallots , minced
- 1 pinch chervil (optional)
- 8 sprigs tarragon (about 1 tablespoon of chopped leaves)
- 2 chives , chopped
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
Rinse trout and pat dry with paper towels. Add salt, pepper and drench the trouts in flour.
Melt butter in a pan and fry the trout for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden. Place the trouts in a previously buttered casserole dish.
In the same pan, sauté the shallots (add a little butter if necessary). After 3 to 4 minutes, pour the riesling, tarragon, parsley, chervil, chives and paprika then bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the creme fraiche. Stir for 2 minutes and pour this mixture over the fish.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with steamed potatoes sprinkled with sea salt.