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Trout Mahoning

Trout Mahoning was originally improvised over an open campfire using the next morning's omelet ingredients. If you choose to go rustic with it, don't grill -- pan cook (at least in a makeshift aluminum foil pan) to retain the bacon grease. As almost always with fire cooking, prepare over a hot bed of coals instead of a flame, and cover to prevent drying.

2 strips thick-sliced, hickory-smoked bacon
1 slice sweet onion
1/4 green bell pepper
1 trout
1 portobello mushroom
Coarsely ground pepper

Note: For more servings add one slice of bacon for each additional trout.

Begin by frying the bacon on medium low heat until the fat is opaque but the meat is not crispy. Cut the onion rings into crescents, the pepper into long 1/4-inch slices and the mushroom into meaty slabs.

Sizzle it all for about 5 minutes in the bacon grease, then push the crisp, cooked vegetables to one side of the pan. Splay open the cleaned trout, lightly pepper and cook the inside of the fish for about 2 minutes until the meat is white. Flip it on its side, scoop the bacon and vegetables into the cavity and sizzle for about 3 minutes, peppering the outside to taste.

With the vegetables still inside, gently flip the trout -- careful that the skin doesn't stick to the pan and cooked pieces don't fall away from the fish. Pepper again and cook for another 3 minutes.

To serve, scoop out the bacon and vegetables to present as a side dish. Tiny red- and white-skinned potatoes, boiled, buttered and topped with dill weed, make an easy and fitting accompaniment.

-- John Hayes

Thursday, April 15, 1999

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