SMOKED TROUT WITH WILD RICE CAKES
I’m almost afraid to say these words out loud, lest I jinx this glorious day: but it feels like spring might finally be here, or at least inching closer. I’ve spent the weekend up in Southbury, knocking about my parents house, and generally reveling in the sunshine and the scenery — a run on Flood Bridge Rd past horses shimmying in their paddocks and a long-haired cow with the sleepy-eyed look of a toddler. Inspired by all things new and green, I dreamt up this recipe for supper — and, happily, while I was finishing some work, my father returned from his first fly-fishing expedition of the season with two fat rainbow trout. We smoked them over wood chips on the grill and drank wine and opened the screen door in the kitchen. Yes, I know: I’m spoiled.
1 large or two small waxy skinned potatoes, unpeeled (equal to one cup mashed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups wild rice, cooked
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
½ teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 scallions, chopped
12 oz smoked trout, flaked
1/3 cup sour cream
1 heaping tablespoon prepared horseradish
Juice of half a lemon
4-5 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 generous tablespoon fresh dill, chopped + more for garnish
1. Fill a small pot with water, place over high heat, drop in potato(es), and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until potato is yielding and pierced easily by a knife. Drain off water from the pot and, using the tines of a fork, roughly mash the potato. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir until the mixture is well combined, if slightly lumpy. Scrape into a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Place a medium frying pan over moderate heat, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chopped onion and garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent and slightly golden. Remove pan from heat and scrape onion mixture into the bowl with the potato. Set aside the pan, but don’t wipe it out – you’ll use the remaining oil to fry the cakes.
3. Add wild rice, egg, flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and scallions to the bowl with the potato and onion. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place bowl in refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.
4. In another medium bowl, combine the smoked trout, sour cream, and horseradish. Stir gently with a fork so that the sour cream is evenly distributed and the trout flakes apart (this is also a good time to check for and remove any stray bones). Add lemon juice, Tabasco, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir once more to combine and refrigerate.
5. Place the pan you used to sauté the onions back over moderate-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil (or enough so that the entire bottom of the pan is coated). Remove the rice mixture from the refrigerator and using your hands, shape ¼ cup portions of the mixture into cakes, about 2 ½ inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. (You should have enough for 8-10 cakes.) Working in batches so that the pan is not crowded, sauté cakes until they are crispy and browned, about 3 minutes per side. The cakes will be a bit fragile, so use care when flipping them – you may lose some bits here and there. Transfer finished cakes to a plate lined with a paper towel as you work.
6. Serve 2-3 warm cakes for each person, topped with a heaping ¼ cup of the smoked trout spread. Drizzle with a squirt of lemon juice, a few snips of dill, and salt and pepper to taste.