butterflied rainbow trout recipe
Craig Raleigh

How to Cook Butterflied Rainbow Trout On the Grill

There may not be much better table fare than that of freshly caught rainbow trout, but as with any wild game, it will need some honest attention and detail to make the best of it. Even if you can't get a freshly caught fish, this recipe will work with any trout from your local fish market, the best case scenario if it hasn't been frozen first.

Whether you prefer a gas grill or the good ol' Webber with lump charcoal, you're going to want the heat to be right and ready, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is a great dish for two, or for one person that just loves to eat fresh trout, and it is simple to prepare and pull off.

We love to eat fresh fish no matter how you cook it or what species you prefer, and if it just happens to be one that you caught yourself, all the better. Sure, we practice and even preach catch and release, but truthfully there's nothing wrong with having a wonderful meal of fish from time to time and we can all get behind that.

Butterflied Grilled Rainbow Trout Ingredients

Rainbow trout has as much flavor as any cold water fish out there and it's one of our favorite to target and catch. Add to that the fact that they are quite simple to process for the grill or oven and you have all the makings for a main course that not only cleans up fast, but cooks quickly as well.

  • Two whole rainbow trout
  • Vantia extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 sprigs Fresh rosemary
  • Lemon wedges from 1 lemon

Butterflied Grilled Rainbow Trout Recipe Directions

Since this is not a recipe for cooking your fish after filleting it, you're going to have to be OK with grilling the fish whole, head and all. Sure, this is nothing new to most anglers out there, but just a heads-up for anyone that might find the process a little unsavory.

Start your grill and get it hot ahead of time, but do this while you prep the other dishes since it takes very little time for the fish to cook. You will need a grill-ready char-broil cooking sheet that has the slots in it which are great for grilling seafood and vegetables. One of the first things to do is to rub the sheet with olive oil using a paper towel.

With both the fish and the grilling sheet oiled you shouldn't have an issue with the meat sticking to the pan, but I always have a stainless-steel grilling spatula at the ready to gently slide under the fish and make sure that it does not stick. As we all know, it's all about the heat, but this recipe calls for a counterintuitive way to grill the fish with the flesh side down.

  1. Clean your fish the old-fashioned way by simply slitting it up the middle of its belly and removing the guts while leaving the head and gills intact. This includes leaving the tail on, but removing the pectoral fins, pelvic fins, and the anal fin.
  2. Wash well and leave to dry for about 10 minutes, then towel dry.
  3. Hand rub the flesh side liberally with the olive oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Strip the rosemary leaves from the stem, pulling the needles in the opposite direction from which they grow, (they should easily slide off the stalk) and sprinkle on the flesh of the fish.
  6. Lay your fish on the char-broil sheet with the sides spread to direct the heat towards the flesh and set it on the grill.

The Helicopter Grilling Technique

The idea now is to perform what I call "helicopter grilling," meaning you'll need to hover over your hard-earned fish without leaving it for more than a minute with the hood closed. The best thing about using the grilling sheet is that you can continually turn the entire sheet with both fish (if you are grilling more than one fish) to keep hotspots on your grill from getting to one part of the flesh over another.

With a hot grill, you may not have to cook your fish more than six to eight minutes before it is done, depending on the size of the fish, especially since you will be cooking it with the flesh towards the heat. Alternately opening and closing the hood keeps the heat from overwhelming the fish, so will you be happy to watch it more closely than other meats.

Here's where your favorite beer comes into play as your grilling companion.

Check the meat with your grilling spatula to look for signs of the flesh turning from its true beautiful pink color, to a firm opaque shade with a hint of its original hue. This is where you will turn off the heat, close the hood, and give it maybe 30 seconds to one minute of time before bringing inside to rest. Serve with organic greens from your local Community Supported Agriculture farm.

Other considerations include watching for a strip of bones that occur in rainbow trout roughly between the spine and the edge of the meat. These can be removed ahead of time with a little care by using either a filet knife or a pair of bone tweezers; either way, take your time when eating fish since it is both the cautious thing to do and the zen way of cooking and eating wild game with a loved one.

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