Posted by: highmountainmuse | July 19, 2009

Pan fried trout and the All Ranch Dinner

Our cabin on a warm summer evening...

Our cabin on a warm summer evening...

Once again, it all comes back to the kitchen table.  How much of our lives is spent there? How many of the greater lessons in life have we learned there?

Long ago and far away I learned the importance and pride of preparing and sharing an All Ranch Dinner, a meal that was based on everything home grown or homemade. This may be hard to achieve at a homestead at nearly 10,000 feet elevation, where we have but a 30 day frost free growing period and fat from the land mighty hard to put on our animals, but it’s not impossible, here or anywhere.  We get creative.

The secret ingredient is far beyond the care and loving that went into the growing, baking, harvesting or butchering.  It’s all about sharing.  Somehow, that importance and pride is never quite as special unless the meal is shared.  Somehow, it all tastes better with good company. 

Shy as I may be (somehow I can open up like a breeze here, but in person it may take some time, years even, for me to say more than a few words), I was raised around a large and welcoming kitchen table, and although I have but a small family of my own now, never forget the special joy of sharing, hospitality, and opening up your home and heart.

Well, this is about last nights’ dinner.  Our All Ranch Dinner of sorts shared with friends from near and far, some who had joined us in labor on the ranch during the day planting a new batch of trees down by the Little Cabin, others long lost and with new life (a beautiful baby) who stopped in last minute.

Freshly baked bread, salad from the garden, turkey tetrazzini made with leftover turkey that was the gift presented from our neighbors last weekend (see, I told you we need to get creative up here; we stretch the limits here a wee bit), warm homemade chocolate chip cookies, and the main feature:  fresh trout caught by our friend from our local waters.

So, that’s the recipe I want to share with you today.  How I cook trout.  After sharing this twice in the past week or so, I figure I may as well put it out in the open in hopes that someone else can find this useful.  Simple though it is, it’s a basic staple of our diet, in season only – except for the one time we were tickled pink by having a friend share his catch after a successful January day of ice fishing on the Reservoir.


Pan Fried Trout

Clean the trout well, preferably with the heads on.

Splash the trout liberally with lemon juice.

Dip each trout in a breading mixture made up of:

            1 part cornmeal

            1 part bisquick or flour or pancake mix

            A good dash chili powder (Mama J’s suggestion, and one I do every time now)

            Garlic salt

            Seasoned salt

Pan fry in a big cast iron skillet with plenty of oil (I use equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil).

Each fish is cooked on each side until crispy and golden brown on the outside, and just when the flesh is cooked through on inside.  The meat becomes opaque and will fall off easily from the bone.  It’s something I can’t time, but just get a feel for and keep an eye on the cooking every fish, every time.  Try not to over do it, or the fish will fall apart and removing bones becomes a chore.

To de-bone the fish, hold the cooked trout by the head, and with a fork, gently pry downward from the “neck” along the back bone on one side of the trout, and then the other.  The flesh should stay together and gently come off the bones, and you’re left with all good eating fish on the plate, except for the fins which also should be carefully picked out; and the whole bones of the fish still attached to the head in your hand, which you can dispose of (our chickens love this treat).

So, tight lines, and good eating. And most important, hope you all can enjoy a wonderful shared meal, home made, ranch raised, or locally caught or grown!



  1. Gin,

    Thanks so much for sharing another great life process of the family dinner time, and the wonderful meal that goes with it. While the meal is important, I think the people you share it with makes it a real tribute to life. If luck holds, I hope to use your pan fried trout directions at least once.

    Glad to have you back home for the weekend and to gain your insights.

    Water is a funny and tricky thing in Colorado! Four or five years ago, I was almost arrested for stepping over the wrong creek to fish. Luckily, I was doing catch and release, so the landower felt that since there was no harm done to his trout, thre was no foul committed. Thank heavens. I couldn’t tell the difference as a Texan, but I quicly learned the Colorado water ways. Pun intended!


  2. The meal sounds 5 star .But the picture of your cabin ? That no cabin that is a palace . It would make anyone a home for life . Work to keep your health up and a window to look out everyday and see one of gods masterpieces .iiIf we were all like you and your family this would be a perfect world. Your pictures are almost as important as your writing . I feel blessed to have you as a friend even on the comp .Who knows if i live long enough we may even meet . it would be high lite in my life

  3. Howdy Al. It’s often amusing the “water ways” here in Colorado. Coming from back east, we had too much water and tried to figure out how to get rid of it – drains, pumps, gutters, sewers. Here, it’s all about ownership, claims, rights, priorities. Complicated. My ignorance is bliss. I just dig…

    I forgot to tell you, and I remember you asked, I think we’ll be in for a super mushroom year this year around Creede. You know we had super rains from the end of May and all through June. The mushrooms already began. Although the ground seems parched and crunchy today, there is promise of rain again. Perhaps the monsoons will begin today, tomorrow… no doubt soon.

  4. Don, you, my friend, are too kind…

  5. Gin, you put together an amazing Ranch meal! I am always impressed, you are a fantastic cook and bake the best cookies I have ever had!
    Thank you so much!

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