Trout with Leeks and Mushrooms in Angelica Leaves
Angelica, lovage, grape, burdock, and green maple leaves make great cooking pouches for sealing in steam and juices of grilling foods. When these fresh leaves are not available, beet tops, spinach, chard, romaine lettuce leaves, or even parchment paper can stand in.
• 4 large angelica leaves
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup chopped leeks
• 1 cup sliced mushrooms
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 4 fresh fillets of trout, cleaned
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 8 to 10 long chive leaves (or toothpicks)
1. Trim away the thick stem and 1 inch of the center rib from the angelica leaves; soak the leaves in a tub of water for at least 1 hour.
2. If fresh angelica leaves are not available, use one of the substitutions listed above, or use four 20-inch sheets of parchment paper.
3. Fold each sheet in half and trim into a large half-heart shape.
4. In a large sauce-pan, heat the olive oil and cook the leeks and mushrooms until very soft, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, tarragon, oregano, mustard, and salt.
6. Remove the leaves from the water and pat them dry; brush each leaf with melted butter.
7. Place a trout fillet on each buttered leaf.
8. Divide the leek mixture into 4 portions and spread it over each trout fillet.
9. Fold the sides of the leaf over the trout and roll it up so that the leaf forms a pouch; tie it with chive leaves or secure with wooden toothpicks. (If using parchment paper hearts, place the fish on one side of the heart and spread 1/4 of the leek mixture over the fillet; fold the other half of the heart over the fish and roll up the cut edges to seal.)
10. Place the pouches over heated coals and cook the trout pockets for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, turning only once. Serve immediately.
11. Mix vegetables, fish, poultry, and various other meats with herbs and the heat of the barbecue for tasty side dishes and main meals.
SMOKING AND PLANK GRILLINGUse woody herbs, along with hard or fruit woods (never resinous Eastern cedar or pine), for an aromatic smoke that cooks and imbues the food with fragrant tones of flavor ranging from sweet to citrusy to woodsy.
To smoke foods, presoak wood chips, shavings, or chunks and herb sprigs overnight or for at least 1 hour before cooking time. Use about a 3-inch diameter bunch of herbs to 3 cups of wood chips. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for your grill or smoker when adding smoking materials to lava rocks or briquettes.
Plank cooking requires 10- by 12- by 5/8-inch slabs of construction-grade, untreated wood and a strong, constant heat source (gas grills are best). Soak the wood and the herbs for 6 hours or more before using to cook over the grill. Pile sprigs of thyme, sage, oregano, or rosemary on the planks first, then cover with the food to be grilled, or wrap food in broad leaves or sea herbs such as kelp, dulse, or untoasted sheets of noni. Properly soaked planks should not catch fire but to be safe, keep a spray bottle with water close at hand.
Click here for the main article, Fire and Smoke.
Pat Crocker, home economist and culinary herbalist, photographs, lectures, and writes about food and herbs. Author of three cookbooks, including The Healing Herbs Cookbook (Robert Rose, 1999) and The Juicing Bible (Robert Rose, 2000), Pat enjoys grilling with her family every summer.