Roasted Brook Trout with Fennel and Black Grapes

Serves 4


2 fillets brook trout, rainbow trout, or other super fresh trout
1 bulb fennel
Sea or kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup black grape puree, recipe follows
½ cup black grapes
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt


Preheat oven to 450°F.

Make sure trout has been cleaned of all pin bones, cut in half crosswise, and set aside on a rack until ready to use.

Shave fennel very thinly crosswise on a mandoline. Transfer into a small pot, season with salt, pepper, fennel seeds, lemon zest, and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. Set over low heat, just to warm through, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Now it’s time to move fast. Set a pan large enough to hold the fish in one layer on high heat, preferably heavy duty pan or cast iron. When the pan is hot, season the fish well with salt, add the canola oil to the pan, and add the fish skin side down. Let it cook 1 minute on top of the stove. The skin will get crisp, and the flesh should just start to turn opaque on the sides of the fillets. Move the pan into the oven, and let it cook for 1 minute. The top of the fish should just be warm, but it should still be raw. Remove the fish immediately from the pan, and place skin side up on a board or rack to prevent it from loosing its crispness.

Put a generous swoosh of grape puree down on the plate, a large and small pile of shaved fennel, black grapes and rest the trout against the fennel. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with Maldon salt, and serve immediately.

Black Grape Puree

Makes 3 cups


4 cups black grapes, picked and washed
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon grey salt, or to taste
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup saba (cooked grape must)


Place grapes, sugar, chili flakes, fennel seed, salt, vinegar, and 1 cup water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook 30 to 45 minutes, or until the grapes have popped, and lost their liquid.

Add saba, return to a boil, then remove from heat.

Put all ingredients into the bowl of a blender, and puree on high for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Should be very smooth and lighter in color. Adjust seasoning, and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Recipe Property of Gabe McMackin