Some years ago, my husband gave me a wonderful birthday gift of cooking classes at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Still feeling the warmth of the Florida sun, I flew out of Orlando on a jet bound for Charlotte. When I arrived in Charlotte, I boarded a prop plane and we flew over mountains covered with snow to a quaint and pretty Lewisburg, West Virginia where the limo would pick me up and carry me to the hotel. It had snowed heavily just a few days before my arrival, so the ride from Lewisburg to The Greenbrier was a wonderland of snow on what was already a very scenic road.
As the limo turned into the drive of the hotel, I was met with the most dramatic site of “legendary proportions” as The Greenbrier Cookbook describes it, and the quote is far from wrong. How could I be so lucky to be here in a place where Presidents and nobility had stayed and dined? How could I be?
Each morning I met my fellow classmates for cooking school and each afternoon we had tea with a little time between to rest before dinner. The hotel was magnificent and each meal was a symphony of flavors in the most elegant setting. It was a grand week.
On the night prior to my departure, my classmates and I were guests at a Gold Service Dinner. The dinner is usually reserved for Presidents and dignitaries. The evening was very formal. At my table was seated Chef Walter Schieb, who at the time was The Greenbrier Executive Chef. Shortly after my visit to The Greenbrier, Chef Schieb became the White House Chef.
I had a chance on that trip to meet some incredibly talented cooks and to experience some wonderful hospitality and I shall always remember what a special time it was.
I collected so many good recipes on that trip that I couldn’t begin to list them all, but two that come to mind on these cold winter days are Anne Willian’s Medallions of Venison with Onion Confit and The Greenbrier Cookbook’s Allegheny Mountain Trout with Sweet Potato, Apple and Onion Hash.
If you’ve been hunting and you’d like the Venison recipe, please write and I will send it to you right away.
I’ve used many of the recipes that I collected on that trip for entertaining and cooking classes over the years and they’ve never disappointed me.
Below is a recipe for the Allegheny Mountain Trout, which would be a good late Sunday morning breakfast in this cold weather. I certainly can’t take credit for this good recipe. It’s not as complicated as it looks or sounds, and sweet potatoes, apples and onions are sweet and make a good accompaniment to the trout. This is a full meal, so you won’t really need to make anything else but a good cup of coffee, and maybe a corn muffin with a little honey. Hope you enjoy and if you’d like any particular recipes, please let me know. I’ll be happy to send them to you.
Allegheny Mountain Trout With Sweet Potato, Apple and Onion Hash
8 (10-ounce) whole boneless trout, or 2 1/2 pounds of trout filets
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 strips bacon, diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups finely diced sweet potato (1 1/2 pounds- the recipe does not mention peeling the potatoes but I peel them)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large onion)
3 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1. Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Brush them, inside and out, with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and 2 teaspoons of the thyme (1/2 teaspoon thyme if using dried). Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. In a large sauté pan, cook the diced bacon until brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and drain on paper towels. Add the butter to the bacon fat, then add the diced sweet potato and sauté over medium heat, turning frequently, until the potato is slightly tender and light brown, about 15 minutes. Add the onion and continue to sauté another 5 minutes, then add the apple and continue to cook until all the ingredients are tender and the hash is golden and crispy, another 4-5 minutes. Add the remaining thyme, the cooked bacon and season generously with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the marinated fish on a rack or roasting pan and broil 2 inches from the heat until just barely opaque in the center, 2-3 minutes on each side for the whole fish and 1-2 minutes for a filet. To serve, arrange the hash on a warmed platter or plates and place the broiled trout on top. Serve immediately.
LW Note: If I have fresh thyme, I just use the stems with leaves or sprigs. Just calculate how many sprigs you need to make the desired amount. Place them into the hash and the thyme leaves will flavor the dish. Remove the stems before serving and use fresh thyme as a garnish.
By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
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