The students in my fish-cooking classes rave over this dish. It will transport you to a mountain stream at sunset. The smoky, herbaceous flavors really make the trout jump, but without covering the gentleness of the fish. Anytime you see fresh whole trout at your market, buy some to give this recipe a whirl. They arrive at the store scaled and gutted but usually have the heads on. If the heads bug you, then have the fishmonger remove them.
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Put the trout on a plate or in a baking dish. Coat the outside of each with the mayonnaise. Stuff 2 thyme sprigs, 2 oregano sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, and 2 lemon slices into the body cavity of each trout. Add a little garlic if you like. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill, for up to 4 hours.
Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes. When the grill is almost ready, put the smoking chips in a foil pouch and punch lots of holes in it. Wait until a good head of smoke is obvious, then add the trout. Close the lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the trout. Because you are working with whole fish, use the 10-minute-per-inch rule as a guide. Remove the trout to a platter and let them rest for 5 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of first-rate extra-virgin olive oil.
Photo: Ben Fink