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Speckled Trout | Tomato Bacon Stew | Basil Oil

September 20, 2011

Lazy days. Lazy, lazy summer days.

I’ve been a little lazy lately with my posts – for that, I apologize. For me, it has in fact been quite an eventful summer. We made some really big changes in our lives.

We moved into a new house, which is charming and serene. Although the move itself was anything but – can you imagine cleaning up 18 years worth of stuff?

I started a new job with a company that I am so happy and proud to be working for. It was the perfect opportunity that I was looking for and it just happened to fall into my lap. I’m both excited and grateful.

It feels like a fresh start, a new opportunity, and an exciting adventure. Who knows where it will lead? Regardless, I’m feeling pretty happy right now. And I’m ready to ride this fresh start to see what the future will bring. Life has never been better.

This simple dish is just that. Something that came together on the fly – just combining great ingredients from the market. When things are in season and fresh from the farm, they just taste better. PERIOD. The stew can cook for 20 minutes (like I did) or for an hour – it’s just good. And there’s nothing better than a little fresh fish, which has thanks to Chris and Robert of Louisiana Seafood Company, become a staple of our weekly meals. This fish could be anything – just make sure it’s fresh.

Speckled Trout | Tomato Basil Stew | Basil Oil

(recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)

4 4 oz. portions of speckled trout (or whatever fish is fresh – snapper, halibut, salmon, tilapia, etc)

3 slices of bacon, diced

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 serrano chile, minced

3 fresh tomatoes, diced

1 tsp champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

basil oil (2 cups of basil, 1 cup olive oil blended together for 5 minutes until smooth, and strained through a cheesecloth)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

First, make the tomato and bacon stew. Put the diced bacon in a cold pan and turn the heat up to medium. Let the bacon fat render and the pieces get crispy, about 7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt, and let cook until soft. Add the serrano pepper and cook for another minute. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. You could let this cook for another 20-30 minutes, if you wanted on medium low to low heat. Season with champagne vinegar and salt and pepper. Taste it right before you are about to serve. If the tomatoes were too acidic, you may have to add some sugar. Before serving, stir in the fresh basil.

Get the fish going. Season it on both sides with salt and pepper. Get a pan over high heat and add a little bit of olive oil or butter. Sear the fish on one side until it’s nice and brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip it over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until done.

To plate, put some of the stew down. Top with the fish, and put some more stew right on top. Garnish the outside with basil oil.

This weekend just reminded me of what it’s like to surround yourself with awesome people. And if it is any indication of what’s to come, we have a lot to look forward to. On Saturday, we woke up early in the morning. I picked up my CSA share and a beautiful raw milk brie cheese from Jennifer and Robin of Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. I dashed back home to put everything in the fridge before an early morning tailgate. My Vanderbilt Commodores were going to play the Ole Miss Rebels. There’s something about tailgating that just gets me excited – the excitement, the people, the fanfare; there is nothing quite like it. (And we ended up winning, so we’re 3-0!)

On Sunday, I rubbed some spareribs with a special dry rub and headed over to watch NFL football with Amy and Derek (whose twitter handle is now #TwitterlessDerek). We watched our Tennessee Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens. We ate.

We ate A LOT. Amy prepared some awesome tomato-pancetta butter, into which we dunked slices of great bread. She also made mac n’ cheese with a beautiful panko top, homemade beef and bean chili, cheddar-chive biscuits, and chocolate liquer brownies. I threw some ribs on the grill and taught Amy how to make some authentic southern gravy (with homemade sausage, of course!). And Derek made some amazing drinks. In his own words, “bourbon, really cheap lemonade, and a splash of coke”. It tasted like tea and was absolutely delicious.

A lazy summer weekend. One of those that you cherish because it was just perfect.



6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 12:14 PM

    This looks simply delicious, what a great and lovely recipe.

    • September 20, 2011 2:06 PM

      Thank you very much – extremely easy and delightfully tasty!

  2. September 20, 2011 1:53 PM

    aww, thank you so much for the kind words. derek is going to be absolutely thrilled that his drink got a shout-out. =) we definitely have to make sunday feast-n-football a regular occurrence!

    • September 20, 2011 2:07 PM

      Yes, indeed! That drink really was awesome!!

  3. September 20, 2011 5:31 PM

    How delicious looking! And sounds like you had a great weekend!

  4. Derek permalink
    September 21, 2011 9:16 AM

    We had a great time and the ribs were great! If I had a twitter account I’d already have tweeted all sorts of clever and complimentary remarks about them to my thousands of followers. I won my fantasy football game and took the top spot in this week’s pick ’em pool, so they weren’t just tasty, they were good luck, too.

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