Freshly caught trout cooked over the campfire, is one of the greatest joys in life. If you’re headed out for a weekend camping trip it’s always a good idea to throw a few fishing poles in. We fish almost every time we head out camping in hopes of catching enough to have a fish fry. We have made many fish meals over the campfire but one of our favorites from Chef Steven Raichlen is this crusted trout recipe fried nicely in cornmeal and bacon fat. A Dwight Eisenhower special.
Little-known fact about Dwight D. Eisenhower: The five-star general and thirty-fourth president of the United States was a commander and chef in the kitchen. The Eisenhower steak (sirloin rolled in salt, pepper, and garlic powder) was cooked directly on the embers. When it came to trout, Eisenhower took an equally no-nonsense approach: Brown bacon in a skillet, crust the fish with cornmeal, and fry it in the bacon fat.
This crusted trout recipe is super easy to make over the campfire in a cast iron skillet and only requires a few ingredients. Plus there is bacon involved so it has to be good, right?
- 4 slices thick-cut artisanal bacon
- 4 whole trout (12 to 16 ounces each), trimmed and gutted
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- About 1 cup white or yellow cornmeal, spread out on a plate
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
- Place the bacon in a cold cast-iron skillet. Place it over medium heat or a campfire and cook the bacon until it is browned and crisp on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning with tongs or a fork. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Reserve the fat in the skillet.
- Generously season each trout inside and out with salt and pepper. Holding each trout by the tail, dip it in the cornmeal, thoroughly coating both sides and shaking off the excess.
- Gently lower each trout into the skillet with the bacon fat. (It should be hot.) Pan fry the fish until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Start working over a medium-high heat and reduce the heat (or remove from the campfire for a minute) if the outside of the trout starts to burn before the fish are cooked through. To test for doneness, make a little cut in the back of the fish. The flesh next to the backbone should be white and should pull away from the bone easily.
- Drain the trout on the paper towels and transfer it to a platter or plates. Crumble the bacon over the trout (or just halve the slices) and serve it with lemon wedges for squeezing.
More great fish recipes
About Steven Raichlen
Man Made Meals With Steven Raichlen
Steven Raichlen is a multi-award winning author, journalist, television host, and now novelist. His books include the international blockbusters The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill and the New York Times bestselling Planet Barbecue. His new novel, Island Apart, tells a story of love, loss, redemption and really good food set on Martha’s Vineyard. Translated into 15 languages, Raichlen’s books have won 5 James Beard Awards and 3 IACP-Julia Child Awards and have sold more than 4 million copies. Raichlen also hosts the popular TV shows, Primal Grill and Barbecue University on PBS, and a French language show called Le Maitre du Grill. He lives and writes in Coconut Grove, Florida, and on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. To get this recipe and many, many more Man Made Recipes, click here to buy his book.