Wild Game Gourmet: Smoked Trout


Aaron Walters

If you talk to just about anyone in Arkansas, there’s a good chance they’ve eaten fish recently. Fish is readily available in our state, it’s a good protein and it’s served in a lot of restaurants. One variety that’s not quite as common is fresh trout. I’d like to help change that. This recipe is designed for fatty fish weighing five pounds or more. That makes it perfect for your Arkansas cold water trout catch. It’s super delicious and pairs well with a good variety of wines.

Smoked Trout

Prep time 2 hours
Cook time 3 hours
Total time 5 hours

  • 1 whole trout, butterflied (Arkansas Rainbow Trout recommended)

  • ½ cup kosher salt

  • ½ cup spruce or fir tips  NOTE: if not available, substitute fresh rosemary

  • Zest of 2 lemons (options – 2 limes or 1 orange)

1. Salt both sides of the trout. For a five pound fish, you will use the entire ½ cup of salt. Scale the amount of salt up or down according to the size of the trout. Sprinkle the spruce/fir tips (or fresh rosemary) over the meat side of the trout. Fold the trout over so it looks like a whole fish again. Place in a closed container and refrigerate for one hour per pound of fish — 5 pounds = 5 hours.

2. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Put the trout on a cooling rack and return to the refrigerator for several hours (up to a day.)

3. Smoke the trout over your choice of wood. Spruce will give a citrusy flavor. If you don’t have spruce, a combination of rosemary and lemon will give the same citrusy flavor. A slow smoke is preferred. How long to smoke will depend on the size of the trout and heat of the smoke, as well as the doneness you want to achieve. 


Pair your smoked trout with the following wines:

Domaine Laroche Chablis – $28.99

Clear lemon color. A fruity, fragrant nose with hints of ripe white fruit and flowers. Lively on the palate with a mineral accent on layers of white fruit; a fresh finish.

Zull Riesling – Regular $28.99 / Sale $23.99

Fizzing lemon peel and more rounded tangerine unite on the nose but really shine on the palate which is concentrated and fruit-driven with a tangy, mandarin-like richness that sweeps to a clean, joyful finish.

Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone – Regular $16.59 / Sale $12.99

A blend of 62% Grenache, 26 % Syrah, 5% Carignan, 4% Cinsault, 3% Mourvèdre, it is generous, focused, and complete, showing great aromatic typicity in the form of sun-kissed blackberry, black olive, and plenty of spicy garrigue herbs like rosemary and thyme.

All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price. Products and prices are subject to change.

Wild Game Gourmet: Duck


Aaron Walters

For all the duck hunting that goes on in Arkansas, it isn’t the most common dinner table item. Duck can be tricky; if prepared incorrectly, it’s game-y and funky (in a bad way). But when duck is done right, it’s a wonderful change of pace. Here’s a recipe that’s almost foolproof.

For the duck :

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 4 cups cold water

  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds chopped

  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons honey 

  • 2 teaspoons salt 

  • Three duck breasts

 For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons honey 

  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir

  • 1 cup mushroom stock 

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 3 thyme sprigs

  • 1 heirloom tomato, chopped 

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a small skillet, toast the peppercorns and fennel seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a large bowl and add the water, fennel bulb and fronds, balsamic vinegar, honey and salt. Whisk to dissolve the salt. Add the duck breasts to the bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned. Add the honey and cook over moderate heat until the onion starts to caramelize, 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, 4 minutes. Add the stock, peppercorns, thyme and tomato and cook over moderately high heat until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the duck from the marinade and pat dry; season with salt and pepper. In a large, ovenproof skillet, arrange the duck skin side down and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 12 minutes. Turn the duck breasts skin side up and transfer the skillet to the oven; cook until medium-rare, about 7 minutes. Transfer the duck to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the breasts crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Sauce the plate and top with sliced duck.


Pairing suggestions :

Hahn SLH Pinot Noir

Zull Riesling

All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price. Products and prices are subject to change.

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