Of all the different types of fish to smoke, trout is probably one of the most common aside from salmon. There is also arctic char, which is a cross between salmon and trout which works well too, but brook trout, lake trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout are the most common types of trout to smoke.
They are very easy to clean and very easy to smoke or cook. They probably take the least amount of time to smoke in a big chief smoker as well. They will really not take a whole lot of time to get the job done, and if they are done properly, you will end up with a great product.
In this article, we will cover how to use the big chief smoker to smoke trout and well as how to clean and prepare the trout before smoking it. We will also give you a couple of awesome starter recipes to use when smoking trout in your big chief smoker.
How to use the Big Chief Smoker
The Big Chief smoker is not all that complicated to get started. It does work differently than any other electric smoker because it will only be able to maintain a single temperature of 165 degrees all the time. No lower, no higher.
All you need to do is fill the racks with meat or fish and place them in the smoker. Close up the box and turn on the electrical unit. Fill the pan with wood chips every so often and check them about every hour through the wood chip slot.
Try to keep the smoker sealed during the smoking process, and you should end up with an excellent product. It may just take longer than using any other type of smoker, though.
Cleaning and preparing the trout
When it comes time to clean the trout, it will be the easiest fish you ever clean. Most times, if you are buying the trout in the store, they will already be cleaned.
But if you plan on catching the fish and cleaning it yourself, then don’t worry, it’s very easy. There are two different ways to go about cleaning the trout, and that is if you want the filet or the whole trout.
Both are the same until the end of the cleaning process. Make an incision on the belly of the fish from the throat to the tail and open up the fish. Proceed to remove all the entrails and organs from the fish.
Rinse the inside cavity of the fish with water thoroughly. If you want to cook the trout whole, then at this point you are ready. If you want a filet, then cut the head of the fish clean off and unfold the filet.
Then you are prepared to go. If you are preparing the fish for another day, then make sure to wrap the trout very well and freeze or place it in the fridge overnight.
Smoked Whole Trout
Smoking whole trout is very easy to do and does not take much effort at all. Some people like to keep their trout unwrapped when smoking the fish, but this could run the risk of drying it out.
There is nothing wrong with giving the trout a good foil wrapping first. Also, when smoking the whole trout, the fish will benefit from a good overnight brine.
4 whole trout, cleaned
1 cup of sugar
¼ black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
½ cup of salt
1 cup fresh dill
2 lemons, sliced
8 garlic cloves
In a large bowl or bucket, mix the water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves to create a brine. Submerge all the trout in the brine and allow them to sit for at least 5 hours or overnight.
Once the fish has finished in the brine, remove them and rinse them very thoroughly to get all the brine off of them. Open the cavities of the fish and stuff them equally with the lemon slices, fresh dill, and garlic cloves.
Place the trout on a rack with a drip tray or a sheet pan and place them in the smoker. All of them smoke for at least 2 hours to 4 hours or until the fish has reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
Remove the fish from the smoker and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Also, remove the ingredients from the cavity before serving as well.
Smoked Trout Filet
Smoking the trout as filets in the big chief smoker will be the most common way. There are so many different ways to prepare the fish this way, and brine or a marinade will almost be necessary in order to keep the fish fairly moist and not all dried out.
In this recipe, we use a marinade to not only keep moisture in the filets but also add some extra flavor to the fish.
4 pounds trout filets, cleaned
1 cup white wine
¼ cup soy sauce
2 lemons, zest, and juice
2 tbsp. Fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Black peppercorns
1 tsp. Tabasco
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, sliced
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together well, except for the sliced lemons. Place the trout in a bowl or container and add the liquid marinade to the trout to cover it completely.
Place the marinating fish in the fridge and allow it to marinate for 4- 6 hours. Once finished, remove the fish from the marinade and lay it on a sheet pan and place it on the rack in the big chief smoker.
Smoke the fish with mesquite wood chips for 2 hours to 4 hours. The fish should flake apart when it has finished. Remove from the smoker and allow the fish to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Add extra seasoning to a single filet to test it out. Take one filet and place it on a separate plate and lightly sprinkle seasoning on top before you load your smoker.
I like to add extra pepper or my favorite purchased cajun spice to a few pieces on every batch.
Smoked Trout Rillette
The best way to describe this recipe is by calling it a trout dip, which it actually is. It is meant to be spread on crackers or veggies and served as an appetizer or finger food for party guests, but you can eat it alone at home too.
Another thing is the actual smoking part is the easiest way. You don’t need to brine the fish since it will be mixed up with other ingredients into a dip anyways. But it is a great recipe and way to eat smoked trout.
2 pounds of trout, cleaned and filet cut (whole is fine too, just adjust the smoking time.)
8 oz. Cream cheese
1 small lemon, zest, and juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco
1 tbsp. Chopped fresh chives
1 tsp. Black pepper
2 tsp. Old bay seasoning
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy then scrape into a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl except the trout and whip again until fully incorporated.
Set the bowl in the fridge while the trout smokes. For this recipe, just smoke the fish the same way as the last recipe without the marinade. Smoke the trout in the big chief smoker, plain, for 2 hours, and set aside to cool down in the fridge.
Once the trout has cooled down completely, remove the meat from the skin and break it up into flakes and place it into the large bowl of whipped cream cheese. Now gently fold the smoked fish into the cream cheese mixture by trying to get everything mixed but not breaking the trout up too much, so it stays somewhat intact.
By not breaking up the trout, it will give the trout dip much more texture. Once mixed, you may serve right away or place it in the fridge. The shelf life should be no more than a week.
When it comes to smoking trout, it is pretty fast and easy to complete. You just want to make sure you don’t dry the fish out. Smoking trout in a Big Chief smoker will help solve this problem with its slow and low approach to smoking food.