Grilled, Stuffed Trout in Foil

Summer is grilling season, and having already made hamburgers on the grill this week, I decided to create something slightly different for dinner last night.  My grandparents are in town, and we’re all seafood lovers so I decided to made fish on the grill.  My freezer is full of wonderful rainbow trout from my share at the Charlottesville Community Supported Fishery, and it seemed like the perfect, special meal to make for relatives.  I was reading about cooking methods online for whole fish, and the most common seemed to be wrapping the fish in foil and then placing those packages on the grill.  I had only ever prepared the fish in the oven, but I was excited to use the grill, so my grandparents chipped in and we all prepared the fish together.  Here’s how we prepared the meal:

Once the fish was defrosted, I dried it with paper towels, set them out on a platter, and salted them.  The salt helped to dry out the skin a bit (so that it might crisp up more) while I prepared the stuffing.

A little internet surfing informed me that common flavors for grilling fish include white wine, garlic, tomato, onion, lemon, parsley, basil, etc.  So for the stuffing, I started by sauteing red and white onion in a good amount of olive oil (because you just want them to soften and develop depth of flavor, rather than browning).  After about 2 minutes, and once they started to soften, I added chopped heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market and some salt.

When the onions became translucent and the tomatoes started to cook down, I added a whole bunch of chopped garlic (you only add garlic at the end because you don’t want it to burn).  I wanted to create lots of flavor because this mixture was going into the middle cavity of the fish where it can flavor the whole fish while it’s cooking.  The whole mixture turned out so delicious though that even after cooking inside the fish, my family pulled it all out of the fish, and we ate it on its own.

I let the garlic cook in with the mixture for around 1 minute, and then I added a good-sized splash of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio).  I was also going to add a bit of wine to the packages of fish before they went on the grill to help flavor them, keep them moist, and almost steam them, so adding some to the stuffing seemed a great way to help develop a tasty sauce.

The mixture looks soupy–not something that’s easy to stuff into a fish–so I let it reduce over low heat to evaporate some of the moisture and concentrate the flavor.

When it was finished, I was left with a much smaller amount of onions and tomatoes than when I started, but that just meant all that goodness was condensed into a smaller amount that I could more easily stuff into fish.  My next step was laying out large pieces of foil and brushing on a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Then I put a piece of fish on the foil, rubbed it around to coat the skin with oil, and then salted and peppered the whole outside and inside of the fish.  Next, I had help spooning the stuffing mixture into the cavities of the fish.  The extra hands came in very handy!  Especially to take these pictures!

Once there was stuffing in the cavity, I placed some lemon slices inside as well and tried to fold the fish back together as best as I could.

The stuffed fish is then ready to be wrapped up like a present.  I placed each fish right in the middle of the foil, and then folded the foil in half around fish’s sides so it lay in the bottom crease.  Then I took the foil by the head and tail end and folded or crimped it over twice.  Then I could pour a splash of wine into the envelope of foil without it spilling out the sides.

After pouring in a bit of wine around the fish, I carefully laid the package back onto its side so that I could fold and crimp the foil in from the top.  This way I had sealed all three open sides of the package.  I continued folding along each of the sides until I got close to the fish and it was wrapped up nice and tightly.

Then the packages get put on the grill.  We found that 7-8 minutes per side for the biggest fish was the right cooking time and about 5 minutes per side for the smaller fish.  I’m guessing the biggest fish was around 1 pound, and the smaller ones probably weighed around 1/2 to 3/4 pounds.  It’s a bit difficult to tell when the fish is finished cooking because it’s wrapped in foil, so you can’t see it or prod it or test it.  Cooking the fish with the bones in helps in that regard though, because it helps to keep the fish moist, as does the wine.  So even if you er on the longer side, the fish should still be moist and tender.

When the packages do come off the grill, they can be opened up to test the fish.  Just be careful of the steam that comes out when you open it!  You can check if the fish is done by pressing on the sides which should feel firm and not jiggly or too smooshy.  The best (although not so pretty) way to check, though, is to try pulling the meat away from the backbone with a fork.  If the meat falls off and flakes easily, then the fish is perfectly cooked.

The picture above is of a foil package that was just opened up after coming off the grill.  The skin looks slightly wrinkled and shriveled, and I believe that’s a sign that it’s a little crispy and that the meat beneath is fully cooked and starting to separate from the skin.  And look at all those juices in the bottom; that’s from the splash of wine, the lemon slices, and the flavorful juices from the stuffing melding with the fish as it cooked to create and lovely sauce.  It was tangy and salty from the lemons and all the garlic and so tasty that we spooned it over all of our fish.  Here’s another angle and a slightly prettier presentation for our table:

Here’s one last picture of the fish in the middle of us devouring it:

You can see how easily the meat slides off the bones once it’s cooked.  It would have been nearly impossible to filet the trout avoiding all the tiny bones, so it’s suggested that you cook it first because the meat separates much more easily from the skeleton that way.  And then nothing goes to waste!  By serving it whole as well, you can pick at the bones and get every little bit of delicious meat.  I even used my hands to pull off the meat and especially the skin–one of my favorite parts.  I felt (and probably looked) like a total caveman, but it was absolutely worth it!

And of the course any meal wouldn’t be complete without one of my famous salads!  To this one, I added cabbage, sugar snap peas, purple pepper from the farmer’s market (that actually tastes just like red bell pepper), diced red onion, chopped zucchini, and spinach.  The dressing is pesto, olive oil, leftover homemade green goddess dressing (from beet sliders which will come in a future post!), Parmesan cheese, sour cream, a dash of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  I just threw together a bunch of my typical dressing ingredients to make a creamy, green goddess-like dressing.  I find the Parmesan cheese is a super yummy addition to creamy dressings and helps to thicken it.

It was a delicious and beautiful meal, one that I was so happy and proud to share with my family.  I hope you enjoy.  Have a happy 4th of July!

One Response to “Grilled, Stuffed Trout in Foil”
  1. Nana and Pop-Pop says:

    This was the first time I had ever eaten rainbow trout, and the whole fish, at that. The dish was delicious and it made a trout lover out of me! Our complements to the Chef!

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