Michael Matthews lives a great life in western Montana, dividing his time between the water and the gridiron as a fly-fishing guide and a linebacker for the University of Montana Grizzlies.
When he’s not in the gym or on the field, Matthews works as a fly-fishing guide for Missoula River Lodge — the same lodge where hef Carrie Nowlen, Realtree Timber 2 Table guest chef and food stylist, works as executive chef. The popular lodge is located along a picturesque stretch of the Clark Fork River, just west of Missoula, and hosts fly-fishing clients from near and far.
It’s safe to say the laid-back 23-year-old is living the dream.
One of his favorite floats is the renowned Blackfoot River, a popular stretch of wild, scenic water just east of Missoula. It’s a spot he often takes his clients; the scenery is incredible, and the trout numbers are healthy.
Ending a great day on the water around a campfire with friends — eating food you caught yourself — is nothing short of awesome. Campfire trout is the poster child for fresh, organic, timber-to-table fare that’s as versatile as it is delicious. It’s packed with nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, and loaded with protein and healthy fat.
Trout is mild in flavor, making it perfect for family and friends who don’t like seafood that tastes “too fishy.” A highly versatile protein, trout can be grilled, steamed, seared, broiled, smoked, or sautéed and pairs well with just about any green veggie or salad. Here is one of Chef Carrie’s favorite trout recipes you just have to try.
1 whole trout, bones removed, skin on
1 lemon cut into round slices
1 orange cut into round slices
3 fennel stalks
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lemon for squeezing
Open trout flat like a book, removing the backbone from the belly side, but leaving both fillets attached by the skin at the back.
Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper and drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Layer inside of trout with fennel stalks, lemon, and oranges. Fold top of trout back over and close the fish around the citrus and fennel.
Preheat a cast-iron pan over campfire. Add oil, and once hot, add stuffed trout. The fish should sizzle when added to pan. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes per side, uncovered on first side, then flip and cook covered on the opposite side. The trout is done when skin releases easily from the flesh and meat flakes with a fork.
Plate trout with flash-fried cast-iron veggies, or use in a delicious appetizer with apples, brie, and fresh dill. Enjoy.
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