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Recipe

Whole Grilled Trout with Charred Corn and Black-Plum ChowChow

Servings: 4

Marked by the grill, the silver skin of a whole trout looks beautiful on the plate. If you don’t want to grill trout on the bone, it’s easy enough to find boneless butterflied trout at the fish counter. Stuff them, fold them over to look like whole fish, tie them up with twine, and then proceed to the grill. Chowchow is a Southern relish typically made with cabbage, corn, green tomatoes, and bell peppers and preserved in big batches by canning. My version is a sweet, tangy quick pickle of fresh summer corn, charred on the grill, and diced black plums.

Ingredients

For the chowchow

  • 3 Tbs. apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp. yellow mustard seed
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; more to taste
  • Vegetable oil, for the grill
  • 4 large ears corn
  • 2 medium black plums (or other variety), pitted and cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1 cup diced)
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the trout

  • 3 medium lemons
  • 4 whole trout, about 12 oz. each, cleaned, scaled, and butterflied, with head and tail on
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Olive oil, for grilling

Preparation

Make the chowchow

  • Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
  • Put the vinegar, honey, celery seed, mustard seed, pepper flakes, and 1 Tbs. water in a small saucepan. Stir gently and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set the pickling liquid aside to cool.
  • Oil the grill grate. Grill the corn until evenly charred on all sides, about 8 minutes total, turning when necessary. Remove from the grill. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the plums and pickling liquid, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the chowchow aside at room temperature, about 1 hour.

Grill the trout

  • Cut 2 of the lemons in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Pat the fish dry. Season the cavity of each fish with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and stuff with a thyme sprig and about 3 lemon slices. Tie the center of the fish three times at even intervals.
  • Oil the grill grate. Brush the outside of the fish with oil, and season with salt and pepper. (To ease turning whole stuffed fish and keep their skin intact, put them in a flexible grilling basket.) Grill the trout with the grill covered and the vents open, turning once, until a digital meat thermometer reads 125°F, about 12 minutes total. Remove the fish from the grill. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges.
  • To serve, remove the twine and put each trout on a serving plate. Use a slotted spoon to put a large spoonful of the chowchow on top of the fish. Serve with lemon wedges.

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