Chef Phil Verden has recently joined the team as Head Chefat Clavelshay Barn Restaurant in the heart of the Somerset countryside. With flair and imagination, he has created a menu which uses the best of locally sourced ingredients which he champions into elegant, beautiful dishes.
This is shown at it’s best here with Phil’s smoked trout dish. Using locally sourced rainbow trout from Stream Farm, which is less than a mile from the restaurant, it is beautiful in its simplicity and makes for a lovely starter on any occasion.
2 English apple (Phil uses cox apples)
2 fillets hot smoked trout (best from Stream Farm if you live in Somerset)
100g puy lentils (soaked overnight in cold water)
1 bunch spring onions
5 heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise
200g Somerset cider
200g cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Splash Somerset cider brandy (optional)
Honey to taste
Micro celery cress
Pickle the lentils by discarding soaking water and placing the lentils in a pan, add a sprig of thyme and cover in half water and half vinegar, boil until tender (but still have a slight crunch), for around 20 minutes. DON’T OVER COOK. When cooked drain and spread on a tray to cool quickly, don’t rinse in cold water as this washes away the pickle flavour.
Make the apple crisp garnish by slicing 1 apple very thin on a mandolin, but thick enough to hold its shape. Dip the sliced apple in a simple sugar and water syrup then place flat on a non-stick baking mat. Cook in the oven at 120°C for 20-35 minutes or until light gold colour and crisp (they will still be soft when hot, take one off the tray and cool on a cold surface to see if it crisps up, if not just pop back in oven for 5 minutes) it’s easier to remove the apple discs from the tray whilst still warm and pliable keep flat and allow to cool and crisp up. Keep covered in an airtight jar until needed
To make the dressing boil and reduce the cider and vinegar in a pan until a light syrup. Take off the heat and add a spoon of honey, add the mustard and the mayonnaise. Stir to combine, taste add more honey if too sour. Don’t season with salt as the trout will be salty.
Whilst the dressing is reducing flake the trout into a mixing bowl, pick out any skin and bones. Try to leave the trout in big flakes. Finely slice the spring onions and add to the trout, finely dice the last apple (I like to leave skin on the apple for colour), add to the trout and onions, add the chives and lentils. Now add the cooled cider dressing, and the brandy if using, very lightly mix to combine leaving the trout in flakes and not “mush”. Taste and adjust any seasoning or sweetness.
To serve, place in a metal ring and lightly pack in, top with a layer of crème fraiche and smooth off with a pallet knife so that you have a flat neat finish. Pull of the ring and place a pile of celery cress on top and in the middle of the trout, lean the apple disc against the cress.
Garnish the plate as you wish but I feel it eats best with some crisp croutes or crackers.