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Guess who wins in showdown between chef and popular dish?

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Sandy D'Amato | The Kitchen Technician Guess who wins in showdown between chef and popular dish?
Posted: Aug. 17, 2008 When I moved back to Milwaukee in 1980 and started as chef at John Byrons, I inherited a menu that had been running for a couple of years. The menu was moderate in size and dominated by one dish, Spinach Stuffed Trout. The reason I say dominated was that a full three-quarters of the orders on any one night were for trout. Within two weeks of starting I had changed the stuffing to one I was happier with and started to slowly add new items that reflected my style of food. As business grew, so did the orders for the trout, continuing its menu dominance. Logical wisdom says, If it aint broke, dont fix it. My wisdom, on the other hand, being a bit fragmented at times, compelled me to make changes to try to get folks to try the other new dishes. I removed the trout from the menu. The servers thought this youngblood was completely out of his mind. Why take away the only reason that most people come to Byrons? My answer was to give them other reasons to come to return more often, not just when they needed a trout fix. After much verbal anguish we figured out a workable compromise. If any diners walked in, looked at the menu and started to shake while stammering, No trout? Wheres the trout? I need trout! I would certainly make the dish for them. Actually, I'd make the dish for anyone who expressed disappointment that it was gone. Surprisingly, we had only two such requests in the first two weeks and, lo and behold after that, it was as if the trout had disappeared from people's minds for good.

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Guess who wins in showdown between chef and popular dish? - JSOnline

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Even though I was the one who perpetrated its demise, I probably was the most surprised of all of us at how quickly it faded. It taught me a helpful lesson: Namely, any dish can take a hiatus and not be missed if the resulting new dishes are tasty and memorable. The recipe I changed it to that second week at Byron's is out of retirement, and here for you to try. I think you'll find it to be a simple, no-frills dish that adapts beautifully to the grill.

Recipes Grilled Stuffed Trout Makes 4 servings


1 pound fresh spinach, stems removed 4 tablespoons ( stick) salted butter 1 small onion (about 4 ounces) peeled, finely diced 2 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped 1 bay leaf 1 cup dry white wine 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 sprig fresh thyme 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 6 ounces grated French Gruyere cheese 4 boneless and butterflied whole trout (8 to 10 ounces each), pinbones also removed Olive oil to coat fish Cook spinach in a large pan in a little water over medium-low heat until wilted and tender, then cool and drain well, squeezing out excess water. You will need 1 cup of the cooked spinach. Place medium-size saut pan over medium heat. Add butter and cook until lightly browned. Add onion and saut 3 to 4 minutes until cooked through. Add garlic and bay leaf and saut 1 minute. Add wine, lemon juice, thyme, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and the 1 teaspoon black pepper and reduce to a light glaze. Mix in chopped spinach and correct seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a plate and cool. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig. When cool, mix in the Gruyere.

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Guess who wins in showdown between chef and popular dish? - JSOnline

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Get a grill medium hot (where you can hold your hand over it for 4 to 5 seconds before you have to remove it). Make sure your grill is cleaned and the grates are lightly oiled so the trout does not stick. Open trout fillets and season insides lightly with salt and pepper. Divide spinach stuffing evenly over one side of each trout and fold other side over the top to enclose stuffing. Oil outside of fish lightly with olive oil, then set on grill, leaving enough space between trout to flip them over without placing them back on the same spot. Do not move trout after placing on grill as skin will stick until fully seared. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, taking care when flipping to get under the skin with a spatula so it doesn't stick to the grates. Place on 4 plates and serve. Sanford S " andy"D'Amato, chef/co-owner of Sanford Restaurant, 1547 N. Jackson St., Coquette Cafe, 316 N. Milwaukee St., and Harlequin Bakery, is a James Beard Award winner. For more information, visit www.sanfordrestaurant.com. Archives When in Rome, do as the taste buds would Cranberry tart brings meal to a sweet close Hazelnuts roasting set the heart afire Hearts melt when cheese meets bread Squash dumplings fit the season and senses Bikers in Italy take to wheels of cheese 2,000 filets gave me the willies Follow taste buds, not chef Fishing for fond memories Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard Right ranch can make salad, day perfect Dramatic service won't upstage veal piccata Yes, folks in Milwaukee want to eat good food Ring dinner bell for Asian chops Grill tuna for a quick dinner Getting to the root of a good lunch in N.Y. Scratching that 11-year itch When it comes to chowder, I'll take Manhattan Cool gazpacho stretches out summer Young chef changes rooms and his perspective

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