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Pan Fried Brook Trout Recipe

Follow step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions on how to prepare our Pan Fried Brook Trout Recipe. We’re using this popular game fish in our recipe, but it’s easily adaptable to a variety of other fish as well. Pull out that cast iron skillet, a little lard, and let’s cook up a mess of fish. Full printable recipe included.

Pan Fried Brook Trout Recipe, as seen on Taste of Southern.

Pan Fried Brook Trout:

When asked if I could do a recipe in keeping with the theme of the Mountain Issue of Our State Magazine, I thought I could probably pull it off without much problem.  Just exactly what would make a good “mountain” recipe was the question.  And then, it was suggested that I might prefer to do one based on Brook Trout, as the Mountain Issue would also contain a story about those.  How hard could a fish recipe be?

Brook Trout are considered game fish.  That means, you can’t just run out to the store and buy them. You have to catch them.  I love to fish, but there are lots of rules, regulations, and sometimes special permits needed in order to fish for Brook Trout.  So much for that.

As it turned out, my brother and I were headed to the mountains that very weekend to deliver one of the pig cookers he sells.  We were headed over to Tennessee and I thought surely I’d be able to talk with someone along the way that could clue me in on a good mountain type recipe. During the ride, I told my brother how much I had hoped to do a recipe involving the trout, but since we wouldn’t be able to catch any on our own, I needed to find some other type of recipe to prepare for the magazines website.

Five hours away from home, we reached our destination and delivered the cooker.  We always get into various conversations about cooking with the new pig cooker owner on these trips, and we always have a lot of fun meeting and talking with the customers.

As we were about to leave, I asked the lady of the house if she knew of anything in particular that I might be able to use as a mountain recipe. Her eyes immediately lit up as she started telling me about a very special dish that her grandmother always made for her as a child.  It wasn’t about fish though, it was for Cornbread and Eggs.

I mentioned that I had really hoped to do a recipe using Brook Trout, but had to abandon the idea because I couldn’t buy trout. Her eyes lit up again and a big smile came across her face.  Without hesitation, she says, “I’ve got a couple right here in the freezer you can have.”

Turns out her whole family enjoys hunting and fishing and she had a few Brook Trout leftover from a recent camping trip.

Needless to say, my brother and I both were flabbergasted with her offer.  She handed me three foil wrapped pieces of fish and told me how her family enjoyed cooking them around the camp fire.

Grinning from ear to ear, I told her she had just “made my day.”  We thanked her a few more times and then loaded up for the five hour ride back home… with Brook Trout.  I was so thankful for my blessing of three simple fish that day and not only did I have the trout, I also had two new recipes to prepare.

I decided to pan fry the Brook Trout. It’s fairly easy and I do hope you’ll give it a try.  If you don’t get the chance to fish for your own Brook Trout, I hope someone might be generous enough to share some with you as well.  Until then, grab some Whiting, Tilapia, or another great fish and Let’s Get Cooking!

Brook Trout, ingredients

Pan Fried Brook Trout Recipe:  You’ll need these ingredients.

Brook Trout, wrapped in foil.

Since Brook Trout are game fish, you can’t buy them in a store or from your local fish monger.   You’ll have to catch your own or hope someone shares some of theirs with you.  Here’s a picture of the three trout that I was given.  They were securely wrapped in aluminum foil and already frozen, but we had about a 5 hour trip to get back home.

My brother had a newspaper in his truck and promised me they would make it home just fine if we wrapped them up in newspaper.  He wrapped about 5 individual sheets of the paper around the fish and then wrapped that in the remaining pages.  Just over five hours later, my brother eagerly unwrapped them himself, just to see how well they had made the journey.  Sure enough, they had just started to thaw by the time I got home.  I promptly popped them back in the freezer until I could get the chance to cook them.

Brook Trout, unwrapped and thawed.

This is what I had when I unwrapped the foil packs.  The Brook Trout had already been cleaned and skinned.  I placed them back in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let them thaw out properly. Most Brook Trout are fairly small but the North Carolina record for the largest one caught was recorded at 7lbs. 7ozs. and has held since 1980.

Brook Trout, add cornmeal.

We’re going to coat the trout lightly with a breader mix.  Use a pan or bowl large enough to place the fish in so you don’t mess up another item that you’ll have to wash later.  Begin by placing the corn meal in the bowl.

Brook Trout, add flour.

Next, add the flour.

Brook Trout, add lemon pepper.

Add the Lemon-Pepper.

Brook Trout, add salt.

Add the salt.

Brook Trout, add cayenne.

Add just a dash or two of Cayenne Pepper.  We want to get the flavor of the fish and not a bunch of heat, use it sparingly.

Brook Trout, mix well.

Grab a fork or whisk and mix all the dry ingredients together.

Brook Trout, rinse trout.

Gently rinse the fish, inside and out, under cold running water.

Brook Trout, pat dry.

Pat each one dry with a cloth or a paper towel.

Brook Trout, lots of bones.

A lot of folks wonder why you would want to even eat trout this small because of all the bones.  You can debone the larger one’s, but we’re cooking these with the bones still in them.  Hopefully, if we do it right, you’ll be able to easily remove most of the bones after the fish are cooked.  Stay with me.

Brook Trout, place in breader.

Place the trout in your breading mix.

Brook Trout, coat with flour.

Coat the outside of the fish with a good layer of breader.  Don’t bother trying to get the mix inside of the fish, it probably wouldn’t cook very well since we’re not deep frying the fish.

Brook Trout, shake off excess flour.

Lift the fish up out of the bowl and gently shake off any excess flour mixture.  We’re using just a very light coating with this recipe.

Brook Trout, set aside.

Place the coated pieces on a plate and set aside for a few minutes.  Let them rest while you heat up that skillet.

Brook Trout, add lard to skillet.

Add a couple of Tablespoons of good old Lard to your skillet.  Or, just a light layer of cooking oil.  I’ve set the heat to just a notch below Medium on my stove, yours may vary.  Let the oil heat up until it’s ready for frying.

Brook Trout, temperature test.

When the oil appears to be hot, drop a pinch of the breading mix in the pan.  If it sort of sizzles and dances around, the oil should be hot enough for frying.  You don’t want it too hot though, and it can certainly get too hot with just a small amount of oil in the pan.  Reduce the heat if the breading goes really crazy in the pan.

Some folks also place just a single drop of water in the pan to see if the oil is hot.  The problem with this method is that it pops all over the place when the oil gets hot.  Still, the old timers used it and you can too with a little practice.  Just one drop from the tip of your finger should be enough for the oil to “talk to you,” when it’s hot.  It will also dance and sizzle across the surface if the oil is hot enough.  Just don’t let it pop out of the pan and on you.  It can burn your skin easily.

Brook Trout, add fish.

Carefully place the fish pieces into the skillet.  I’ve only got two pieces to begin with, but if you had more you could add them, just don’t overcrowd the pan.

Brook Trout, flip.

It will probably take 8-12 minutes total for whole fish to cook.  If the fish had been butterflied open and filleted, they would cook a bit faster.  After they have cooked for about 2-3 minutes, carefully flip them over with a fork or spatula.

Brook Trout, turn as needed.

Don’t be afraid to flip them several times during the frying process.  You certainly don’t want them to burn and by flipping them every couple of minutes, you can keep a close eye on them.

If the fish start to curl or bow up a bit, the pan is probably too hot.  Reduce the temperature and let them continue to cook.

Brook Trout, watch for skin to bubble.

You should start seeing some bubbles under the skin of the fish when they are done.  If you look closely, you can see where a couple have popped up right at the corner where I’m holding the spatula.  It would be more visible if the trout hadn’t been skinned to begin with.  If in doubt, use a fork to see if you can flake up a bit of the fish from one of the sides.

Don’t go making fun of my spatula.  I picked it up at the local auction I visit and I love it.  It works really well for flipping eggs when I cook them in the cast iron skillet.  I think I paid a dollar for it.  Well worth the price.

Brook Trout, remove and drain.

When the fish are done, remove them from the pan, and place them on a couple of layers of paper towels to drain for a few minutes before plating them up for serving.

Brook Trout, from Taste of Southern.

Now, about those bones.  You should be able to easily use a fork to flake the meat away from the bones.  Just gently pull the meat away and to the side of your plate.  You’ll more than likely be able to remove the spine and most of the bones in one piece.  Still, it is fish and you should always be careful about finding bones.  I highly suggest that you carefully pick through it if serving it to smaller children.

I do hope you get a chance to enjoy some of our mountain area Brook Trout.  Despite all the rules and regulations, getting out and catching a few fish is always a good day.  And if you can’t, you’ll find some great trout and other fish at your local grocery store that you can use this recipe with.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and memories about Brook Trout.  I’ll be waiting to hear from you in the Comment Section below.  Special thanks to the “W” family for sharing of their bounty and providing the fish for this recipe.


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