Field Trout With Hazelnuts Recipe

Words by Matthew Vanatta
Photos by Ashley Camper

Walking into the basement of Minneapolis’ Upton 43 we are greeted by a bearded bear of a man. Smirking, donning a camo hat and hunting boots, Chef Erick Harcey offers a sturdy handshake and a hearty hello. He has the easy and welcoming demeanor of a well mannered country boy, which is not what you would expect in the meticulous prep kitchen of one of the country’s most exciting new restaurants.

Chef Harcey has been gaining critical acclaim for his minimal and elegant approach to local fare. Inspired by his Midwest roots and Swedish heritage, the Minnesota born chef cemented his reputation as a tastemaker by infusing local ingredients and regional flavors in his recipes. While Chef Harcey is quickly becoming a highly visible chef within the restaurant and fine dining industry, as he was a recent James Beard semifinalist and has received numerous local accolades, Harcey retains the humble and reserved manner of a true Minnesota native.

We sit at a large table in the dining room near the open kitchen. Chef Harcey tells us stories about fatherhood, farming, and the struggle to find good kitchen staff. Harcey is true grit and you can tell that hard work supersedes fanfare for the young chef. An avid outdoorsman, Harcey still resides with his family an hour north of the Twin Cities in the small town of Cambridge, Minnesota. And while the chef and restaurateur is clearly becoming more in demand by the minute, he still makes time to prioritize hunting, fishing, and most importantly, being a father.

Harcey has graciously invited us to his restaurant as we search for recipes that can be crafted at home or on an epic outdoor adventure. His trout recipe is something both the novice and experienced outdoor explorer can attempt to master, whether their catch is store bought or pulled directly from a wild stream in the backcountry. Chef Harcey understands the need for field recipes as he is still an avid fisherman and is up before dawn most mornings, casting into his favorite fishing hole.

As we wait for the tail end of his lunch rush to taper off, Chef begins to prepare a fresh trout, and while he plans to plate it with the elegance and detail that he gives to every dish at Upton 43, he assures me that he will write out a simplified recipe that any outdoorsman or woman can pull off in the field. Harcey is jovial and witty throughout our visit, but when he starts to prepare the dish he’s making for us he is instantly quiet, focused, and so immersed in his craft that he takes on the expression of a great artist working on a dramatic masterpiece.

The result is beautiful and elegant, and yet there is still a sense of humility in the dish. It’s not an over abundance of fancy ingredients, it’s the right ingredients to achieve an exquisite combination of flavor and visual delight. Once he’s finished, he is back to being the lighthearted and informal host we met upon arrival. Chef Harcey takes his craft seriously, but it is clear that he is anything but one dimensional, which like most master craftsman, is a requirement for continued refinement and innovation.

We start to say our goodbyes and shake hands, as we are on our way out the highly decorated chef and owner of the Twin Cities most celebrated new restaurant turns around, and with an enthusiastic smile loudly bellows, “let’s go fishing some time.”

Ingredients:

  • Trout
  • 6 large carrots
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 12 crushed hazelnuts
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 orange juice and zest
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • Knob of butter
  • Splash of wine
  • Sunflower oil
  • Chives
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

Trout:

  1. Pan sear trout fillets in a drop of sunflower oil skin side down
  2. Flip the fish and add a dab of butter, fresh thyme and a smashed garlic clove
  3. Baste in butter and herb mixture

Carrots:

  1. Peel 6 large carrots and cut into small, evenly shaped pieces
  2. Slice thin 2 shallots
  3. Slice thin 1 garlic clove
  4. Start sautéing carrots, shallot, garlic, hazelnuts in sunflowers oil for 3 minutes
  5. Add splash of wine and cook until reduced to “au sec” almost dry and carrots are tender
  6. Add lemon and orange juice and zest, thyme, knob of butter and swirl to emulsify
  7. Add chopped chives and salt and pepper

Plating:

  1. Place carrots on plate
  2. Lay trout over top
  3. Drizzle pan sauce around entire dish, try not to drizzle on trout skin so it retains its crispy texture
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