Pye of Trout

This recipe comes from Truro and is dated 1738. It is a grand and delicious pie, originally made in a “coffin” of raised pastry. The proportion of pastry to filling is more in accordance with today’s tastes, however, if it is made in a pie dish. The original raised pie was probably very large containing 20 or more trout. In Cornwall trout were, and in some places still are, often caught only a short distance from the point where the incoming tide floods inland up the streams. Cornishmen think that this gives their trout a special firmness and extra flavour. However, so much sea fish, including the brown or sea trout, is eaten by Cornishmen that the freshwater trout, although plentiful, are a change and a delicacy. Serve with a salad of watercress and thinly sliced oranges.

Ingredients

  • 4 trout, cleaned and scaled, heads and tails removed
  • ¼ lb (120 g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ½ stick (60 g) butter
  • 2 slices streaky bacon, cut in ¼ inch (0.5 cm) strips
  • 1 small tin artichoke hearts, drained and cut in halves (about 10 halves)
  • 24 capers
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs each parsley and thyme, tied in a bunch with fennel and chives
  • cup (1.5 dl) white wine
  • ½ lb (240 g) puff or flaky pastry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Lightly sauté the mushrooms in half the butter and, when just beginning to soften, add the bacon strips and fry until they are transparent but not at all crisp,

Butter the pie dish. Lay half the artichoke hearts and half the mushrooms and bacon in the dish. Then put the trout on top, side by side, head to tail. Put the capers on the trout and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay on the rest of the artichokes, the bay leaves and the bunch of herbs. Sprinkle on a little more salt and pepper and finish with the remaining bacon and mushrooms. Cut the remaining butter into very small pieces and scatter them on top. Pour in the white wine and cover the dish closely with foil. Bake at 350°F (180°C, Gas Mark 4) for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, take off the foil and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Then put on the crust in the usual way and bake at 450°F (230°C, Gas Mark 8) for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve very hot.

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