April 21, 2018
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Eastern Brook Trout and unspoiled dish

By Bud Leavitt

Editor’s Note: The Best of Bud is a compilation of some of the advice and recipes gathered by the late Ralph W. “Bud” Leavitt who retired as the BDN’s executive sports editor and outdoor editor in the fall of 1988. He continued to write a weekly column for the paper until his death on Dec. 20, 1994. During his nearly half century as the BDN’s outdoor columnist he penned more than 13,000 columns and one book, “Twelve Months in Maine.”

When the creator put together the Eastern Brook Trout, he must have been in a good and unusual mood. He created the one unspoiled dish.

How does one blunt the sweet taste of trout entering a big, hot iron fry-pan?

I pretty much qualify when it comes to filling the role of a modern day Huckleberry Finn. My travels have taken me to some rather exotic fish frys, including deep-fried mullet in the company of Chicago tribune Outdoor editor Tom McNally at Marco Island, Fla., snook and dolphin cooked by Fidel Castro’s personal chef in Havana, Cuba, and heaping platters of brookies offered by such noted kitchen queens as Patty Nugent, Mycki McNally and another half a hundred worthies.

All the same, isn’t the brookie, really, the single food substance the swift-stream Isaac Walton guy dreams of, the one unspoiled dish?

If you are in doubt, try this streamside jolly on a spring or summer day when the birds are chirping, the aroma of wild onions is in the air, and in the brooks, trout are stirring and playing:

12 slices of top-grade bacon. Cook until crisp. Set aside.

1½ cup of cornmeal in a ½ peck paper bag. Place four trout in the bag and shake. Shake hard. Make sure the trout are covered with cornmeal.

Place four trout in fry pan on hot bacon fat.

Lift trout from skillet after cooking 4 minutes on each side. (time for 6, 7, 8, 9-inch fish).

Place on warm plates. Add bacon.

Place another four trout in fry pan on hot bacon fat.

Be sure and turn the trout after every 4 minutes to a side.

Keep the bacon on the side hot, the fry pan hot, and the trout coming — and an eye out for the game warden!

Serve with coffee made on the campfire.

The trout feast is one of the most enjoyable fish meals anywhere around the globe. Maine brookies are sweet, gamey-flavored, succulent, and firm-fleshed and 60 percent of the time, wild and not hatchery-raised.

Anyone capable of spoiling trout in the preparation — well, all I can say, he or she’d foul up traffic in a two-car funeral.

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