Chef Spotlight:

Kevin O'Connor

Fire, foraging and outdoor-foolery: a few of Sacramento-based chef Kevin O'Connor's favorite things. 

Campfire Trout, Wild Herbs & Coal Cooked Cabbage

 

Ingredients

2 whole rainbow trout

1 head savoy cabbage

Cobram Estate® California Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea salt flakes

Meyer lemon slices

Wild fennel fronds

Bay leaves

Elderflower vinegar

Wild onion blossoms

Directions

Rainbow trout was the first fish I caught as a kid on a camping trip; it was an early source of inspiration and got me stoked on knowing exactly where my food comes from.

1. Create a fire with a large coal bed, ideal for cooking.

2. Take a head of red savoy cabbage and an onion and coat them in olive oil, keeping the outer leaves and skins in tact. Once they're coated, bury the whole cabbage and the whole onion in the coals, occasionally topping them off with more embers and turning them with tongs so they cook evenly in their skins. This should fill your campsite with an appetizing smell.

3. While the cabbage and onion is cooking in the coals, start prepping the whole trout. The fish should be eviscerated and washed with head and skin in tact. Season the inside and outside of the trout with olive oil and salt, then fill with California bay leaves, Meyer lemon slices and wild fennel fronds. Line a grill basket with more wild fennel fronds, bay leaves and lemon slices then lay the fish between the herbs, anointing it with another drizzle of olive oil to help insulate before it's baptized in the fire. Place the grill basket with the fish and herbs directly on the coals and be sure to keep an eye on it. The fish will require more attention and less cooking time than the cabbage and onion, which gets cooked in a pretty primitive fashion.

4. You will know the cabbage and onion are done cooking when a knife can be inserted and removed easily. Set aside to cool, as they will be piping hot on the inside for a while. Brush away the soot and remove the outer leaves and skins before transferring to a clean cutting board. Then, cut the cabbage and onion into bite sized pieces.

5. Be sure to serve the trout the moment it is done cooking. Remove from the fish from the fire, carefully remove all the herbs and lemon, and very gently remove the skin, working from the head down to the tail with a knife. For a plating that will impress your fellow camper friends, take a chunk of trout off of the body and plate it with pieces of the cabbage and onion. Finish it with a drizzle of good olive oil, a touch of elderflower vinegar, and wild onion blossoms.

Don't forget to keep that fire stoked.





A Young Gun With A Full-Grown Palate

Raised in the Sierra Foothills, Kevin O’Connor developed a love for gathering, hunting, foraging and cooking at a young age. Starting in fine dining at the age of fourteen, he has over twelve years of experience in some of California’s best restaurants. No matter his venture, he strives to find a real connection to the food he cooks and the places it comes from. An avid forager and adventurist, he always prefers an open fire to a stove. He cooks from the heart, with respect for the ingredients, keeping his flavors simple, clean and damn delicious.