Whole trout is baked with white wine, lemon, parsley, fennel, onion and garlic for a simple, flavorful and elegant presentation.Jump to Recipe
When I was in college, I had the great fortune of spending a semester abroad at the University of London. During that time of intensely studying English literature and art history, I also had the chance to travel throughout Great Britain and Europe. I spent my spring break with a friend and fellow student at the home of a French family who lived in the countryside outside of Paris. Our generous hostess, Isabelle Rougelot, had worked in the restaurant industry and was a wonderful cook. Her family was originally from Brittany and she had a basement cellar filled with delicious apple ciders crafted by her relatives. Isabelle and her husband, Loic, also adored wines from Alsace and Bordeaux. The stay in their home was a real “ah-ha” moment for me as a curious future chef, as they exposed us to the delight of perfectly pairing food and wine. This whole trout dish is a preparation that Isabelle taught me, only using a fresh salmon from the local fish monger. It is a beautiful way to honor the freshness of the fish and enhance it with bright, clean flavors.
Very fresh fish is important for this recipe. Isabelle’s salmon had been caught that very day, as had these Wyoming lake trout.
Onion, fresh fennel, garlic, parsley, lemon and olive oil delicately flavor the fish as it bakes, giving it a fresh and vibrant flavor. I chose a white Bordeaux wine made from a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes. The wine is dry, yet fruity, which adds a good tartness to the sauce that forms in the pan.
Choose a roasting pan big enough to hold the size of your fish. Olive oil, sliced onion and fennel create a bed for baking.
The fish are filled with chopped garlic, parsley and lemon slices to infuse flavor from the inside out.
A little of the wine is poured over the top. Remember that what you put into a dish is what you get out, so use a good quality dry white–preferably some of the wine you intend to drink with the fish!
The pan is sealed tightly with foil and baked until the flesh flakes with a fork. The fish both steams and poaches a bit from the liquids in the pan, making it incredibly moist.
Serving the whole dish on a platter at the table makes for an impressive presentation. The backbones, heads and tails can be gently removed in one piece to free the fillets of most of the bones. The vegetables become tender and a nice sauce develops from the wine, olive oil and baking juices. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil, fresh green beans or a simple salad and roast potatoes for a delightful feast!
Whole Trout with White Wine, Parsley and Lemon
- 1 or 2 large fresh trout, cleaned but with head and tails still intact
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small white onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 bulb fresh fennel, cored and sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 large lemon, sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 325°. Wash and dry fish. Spread the olive oil in a large baking dish big enough to hold the fish. Lay the onion and fennel slices over the bottom of the pan. Place fish on top of the vegetables. Season the inside and outside of the fish with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the garlic and parsley. Fill the insides of the fish and sprinkle a bit over the top. Lay a few slices of lemon inside of each fish and place the remainder over the tops. Pour the wine over the fish and cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes (depending on size of fish) or until the inside flesh flakes easily with a fork. The fish will be very moist.
- Transfer the fish to a serving platter. When ready to serve, gently pull the heads, backbones and tails away from the fillets to remove the bones. Serve with the vegetables, pan sauce and a nice dry white wine.
Tips for Success:
- Use the freshest fish possible for the best flavor and texture. Whole salmon may be substituted.
- Keep the pan tightly sealed with foil during cooking to allow the fish to steam and poach in the juices.
- Add a drizzle of good quality olive oil at the end to enhance flavor and richness.
- This dish is lovely served with crusty bread, a simple green salad or fresh green beans and roast new potatoes.
- The Château Ducasse 2019 Bordeaux Blanc is a blend of 60% Sémillon, 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle, which creates a rich, full mouthfeel from the aromatic fruit to complement the clean, crisp finish. The delicate flavors of the trout are balanced perfectly, yet not overwhelmed by the wine.