Trout Slayer – Fly Fishing with Chef Joseph Lenn & a Recipe for Sunburst Trout with Cruze Farm Buttermilk Consommé

Wading up river, I placed my camera on a tripod and set it to remote control.  I wanted to capture a few pictures of the two of us fishing.  I was able to catch my share of 16, 18, and even a 20 inch trout.

We were wading the river and nearing the fishing cottage when I noticed a large shadow thirty feet in front of us, nested on the edge of a large submerged rock.  The shadow was motionless, except for its tail, that gave it away.  I motioned to Joseph and he caught site of the prey through his polarized glasses.  It was much larger than the other trout we had seen that day.  He calmly settled in and said, “ I can get him.”  He had to drop the fly just past the trout to break water to get its attention and allow the fly to drift close enough to either agitate or invite a strike.  I was glad I set the camera to remote control.

The Catch

All morning I witnessed Joseph’s expertise in laying a fly on the precise target, however, this was a Babe Ruth moment; pointing to center field and calling a home run.  His first cast was three feet past the shadow and in the current.  The fly drifted towards the trout as Joseph maintained tension on the line.  The strike!  With a snap, the hook is set and the fight begins.  The fly rod was bent under the strain as the trout made it’s way down stream seeking the safety of deeper water.  Joseph threaded the line through his fingers to keep it taunt.  The trout jumps, twisting in an attempt to release the fly.  Rod tip up.  The fish pulls to no avail.  One last burst to break the bond, but weakened, the trout submits and Joseph lands and gently cradles the fish.

You can purchase this song (River – Glee Cast Edition) on iTunes or Amazon.

Twenty-four inches!  This is a prize, but a prize to be returned to the river to fight another day.  With the care of a surgeon, Joseph removes the hook and moves the fish back and forth in the water to provide oxygen to its weakened body and ensure it can safely return to its habitat.  With that catch, expectations for the day had been met as evidenced by the big smile on his face as he released the trout.

A 24-inch trophy trout

With a thank you for a wonderful day of fishing and companionship, we returned to the cottage where we stored the gear for the next guest to test the waters.  Somehow, I think that particular trout will be waiting, and this time, with more experience, ready for the challenge.

We walked back to the restaurant and shared our stories of the day’s catch with the other chefs in the kitchen at The Barn at Blackberry Farm.  For me, a 24-inch trout is a trophy and the idea that Lenn called the catch was really remarkable.  What I learned was that Joseph’s fishing prowess is well known and not to be underestimated.  With that I dubbed him “Trout Slayer.”  I actually think he liked the moniker.

In the kitchen, we sorted through the fresh deliveries that were arriving through the back door.  I asked Joseph, what is your favorite dish to prepare.  With no hesitation, he said “trout.”  Chef Lenn has provided a recipe for his favorite preparation of trout to share with our readers.

I want to thank Chef Lenn for a memorable experience.  Next time, I’m bringing my own gear, and we’re heading out to his special spot by the, oh, I’m not supposed to tell.

Below, is the recipe for Trout with Buttermilk Consommé.  In his own words, here is the inspiration for the recipe.

This dish was inspired by Hesse Creek, which runs through the property. Each ingredient can be found or represented by something in the creek, except the radishes. When I was conceptualizing the dish, I was thinking about what the broth was going to be and thought that the buttermilk consommé would be a good fit. The acidity in the broth was a great match for the trout and the story works to describe the dish.

Sunburst Rainbow Trout with Buttermilk Consommé, Watercress and Shaved Radishes

The consommé represents the clear water going through the creek.  Watercress can be found in different areas along the shoreline and lastly, the radish added an extra spice, but we added a funny story to that. Even though the creek is fly fishing only, I was telling Jeff Ross, our Garden Manager, the story and he brought me some radishes and said, “Use these, they look like a “bobber radish.”  I laughed so hard and said I’m using that as part of the story of the dish.

Thank you to Mr. B and Joseph for this lovely article.  While they were fishing, I was enjoying the scenery from the chairs on the terrace at the Main House and lunch on the patio at Blackberry Farm.

Make the buttermilk consommé the day before serving the dish to allow enough time to chill, freeze, and then thaw in the refrigerator.  I did one final straining through a damp kitchen towel to get the consomme perfectly clear.  The rest of the dish is very simple to prepare and makes a beautiful presentation.  We really enjoyed the unique flavors of the trout and buttermilk consommé together.  It was a very light dish, which was refreshing.

Sunburst Trout Farm is situated in the shadows of Cold Creek Mountain in Canton, North Carolina.  Their fish is farm-raised in raceways with waters that are fed into Lake Logan from the Shining Rock Wilderness Area in the Pisgah National Forest.  Their trout are firm fish with a pinkish tint.  It is very different from other wild-caught trout and is outstanding.  You can order their trout which is harvested four days a week and packed immediately and shipped.  You can also find their trout in some markets in North Carolina.

I was able to find Cruze Farm Buttermilk in Atlanta.  Star Provisions just started to carry their buttermilk.  If you are in the Knoxville, Tennessee area, you will probably be familiar with Cruze Farm.  If you cannot find Cruze Farm Buttermilk, any good buttermilk will work for the consommé.

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Sunburst Rainbow Trout with Cruze Farm Buttermilk Consommé, Watercress and Shaved Radishes

You will need to allow at least one day to prepare the buttermilk consommé. The mixture needs to freeze and then thaw in the refrigerator. I strained the consommé through a damp kitchen towel to ensure that it was completely clear. Once you have made the consommé, preparing the fish and plating the dish takes just minutes.


For the buttermilk consommé:
1/2 Gallon buttermilk
3 1/2 sheets gelatin (bloomed) * I used gold sheets
5 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
5 parsley stems

For the trout and plating:
2 Sunburst Trout Fillets (7-9 ounces) each cut in half
2 Tablespoons Canola oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bunch watercress (washed and tough stems removed)
1/2 Cup radishes (shaved on mandolin)


For the buttermilk consommé:
1. In a medium sauce pan, bring buttermilk and herbs to a simmer. Once curd forms, turn heat off and allow herbs to steep for 15 minutes.

2. Next, strain the buttermilk into a bowl, and then fold in the bloomed gelatin. Freeze the buttermilk in the bowl.

3. Remove bowl once buttermilk is frozen and remove frozen buttermilk. Place frozen buttermilk in a cheesecloth lined colander with another bowl under to catch buttermilk as it thaws. Place in refrigerator and reserve thawed buttermilk.

For the trout and plating:
1. In a cast Iron skillet, over medium high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Place seasoned trout fillets skin side down in the skillet. Cook until skin is golden and crispy, turn fish and continue to cook on flesh side.

2. In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, bring reserved buttermilk to a simmer. Season the broth with salt.

3.Divide buttermilk consommé into four bowls. Place fish in bowl with consommé, and garnish with watercress and radishes.

Executive Chef Joseph Lenn
The Barn at Blackberry Farm
Walland, TN

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