Archive for December 4th, 2011

Fennel-Brined Trout Grilled With Bacon And Herbs - BBQ And Grilling Recipes

Brine doesn’t just add moisture. As meat takes in liquid it also takes on flavor, making brining one of the most efficient ways to get the essence of herbs and spices deep into the interior of meat. This trout is a case in point; its flesh is permeated with the classic Provençal combination of orange and fennel. Be careful to limit the brining time to no more than 1 hour. The delicate flesh of trout quickly absorbs flavors and may get overpowered if left to brine any longer.

TIMING
Prep: 10 minutes
Brine: 1 hour
Grill: 12 minutes.

BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled spatula or oiled grill basket.

GETTING CREATIVE
– Try this recipe with boneless chicken breasts: Place the herbs on the outside of the chicken breasts and hold them in place with the slices of bacon.
– A thick salmon fillet can be cooked in the same way.
– Replace the orange juice with pineapple juice, or add other citrus juices. A few tablespoons of lemon or lime juice will intensify the flavor of the brine.
– Change the flavor of the brine to suit your taste: substitute minced ginger, cumin seed, coriander seed, or cardamom for the fennel.
– Vary the herbs to match the flavor in your brine. Tarragon tastes great with pineapple juice; cilantro is good with lime.

TIPS
– The amount of time needed for brining is approximate and can be adjusted to fit your schedule. Brining for too long will cause the fish to break down and absorb too much of the flavor of the brine. If that should occur, wash the brined fish in several changes of cold water before grilling.
– As the bacon grills, its fat helps to keep the fish moist, and it also adds flavor. If you don’t want the bacon, reserve some of the olive oil to drizzle over the fish after it is cooked.

THE GRILL
Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (400° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Charcoal:
Direct heat, light ash
10-by-10-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen
coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Wood:
Direct heat, light ash
10-by-10-inch bed, 1 inch deep
Clean oiled, grate set 2 inches above the fire.

INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)
2 cups Orange-Fennel Brine
4 boneless brook trout, about 6 ounces each
8 sprigs fresh dill, mint, sage, or rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices bacon
Oil for coating grill grate or basket.

DIRECTIONS
1. Put the brine in a gallon-size zipper-lock bag.
2. The trout will be split down their bellies; open them up like a book to expose the interior to the brine. Place the fish in the brine and seal the zipper, leaving about an inch open; push on the bag to release any trapped air through the opening, and close the zipper completely. Massage the liquid gently into the fish and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Heat the grill as directed.
4. While the grill is heating, remove the fish from the brine and discard the brine. Place 2 herb sprigs in the cavity of each fish; close each fish around the herbs. Pat the fish skin until dry; rub the outside of each fish with olive oil.
5. Wrap 2 slices of bacon around each fish, allowing the ends of each strip to meet and overlap slightly. Secure each bacon slice with an oiled wooden toothpick.
6. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. If using a fish basket, coat the basket with oil. Put the fish in a single layer on the grill grate or in the grill basket and cover the grill. Cook until the bacon is cooked through and any exposed fish skin is crisp, about 6 minutes per side. Remove the toothpicks and serve.

WHY DOES BRINING WORK?
If salt dries out proteins, why does brining make meat moister?
During brining, the salt and acid in the brine make the tightly wound spiral structure of meat proteins unravel (denature). As the spiral opens up, the exposed bonds on the ribbons of protein bind with liquid in the brine, resulting in a 6 to 8 percent increase in the fluid content of the protein. When the meat is grilled, the structure of the protein reforms, trapping the absorbed juices inside. Be careful that you don’t overcook brined meats. Excessive heat will cause the protein bonds to tighten, squeezing out all of the liquid that has been taken in.

Comments No Comments »