Saturday, February 7, 2015

Dining In-A Culinary Tour of America: Pocatello, Idaho

The City: Pocatello, Idaho

Why Pocatello, you might ask? Well, there's sort of a family connection to this name. I've never been there, but it's a name that my cousin, when she was very young, used to call my uncle, as a sort of nonsensical "insult". I think it was before I was born, but I think about that every time I hear the name.
Pocatello was named after a Shoshone chief, though in 1918, a linguist named Sven Liljeblad did research and determined that the name wasn't actually a real name, but a combination of several Shoshone root words. The chief's daughter confirmed that her father had never been called Pocatello, but went by the name Tonzaosha, which means "buffalo robe."
Pocatello was established as a stop for the first railroad in Idaho, during the gold rush of 1860. When the gold rush ended, farmers and ranchers came to the area and settled in.(Those who made it alive, that is, and didn't succumb to such tragedies as dysentery or wagons falling off rafts and drowning all on board. Or those who didn't get distracted with hunting buffalo...I am dedicating this tangent to my Oregon Trail days in computer class in elementary school. If you never played this game, then you missed out on some pretty awesome fun!)
The city is the home of Idaho State University and has a population of about 54,255, according to the 2010 census. According to the 2000 census, the city is about 90.5% white, and 7.2% Hispanic or Latino. 75.4% of the population is Mormon.
Pocatello fun fact: In 1948, after a particularly harsh winter, the city mayor passed an ordinance which made not smiling illegal. It was never repealed, and on December 10, 1987, the city was declared the "U.S. Smile Capital". There is even an annual "smile event" to celebrate this!

The Food:
Both of tonight's recipes come from my Idaho Cookbook, that I got on my whirlwind trip to Yellowstone National Park with my sister and my cousin back when I was a student at the University of Washington. I try to collect cookbooks from every state I visit, if I run across any. When I think of foods from Idaho, besides the very obvious potato, I think of trout. There are a lot of rivers in this state, so they catch a lot of trout there. I went with this as opposed to potatoes. I also found a roll recipe I tested as well. The trout recipe was shared by somebody actually from Pocatello, so it's even more authentic! I will be copying the recipes exactly as they are written and will put my own notes in parentheses. I do not own these recipes. I am providing a link at the end for you to order the book for yourself or see if you can get it through your local library if you are interested in exploring the book more.

Garden Grilled Trout:
3 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 trout, cleaned (I used fillets. I was going to get a whole trout but then I decided that I did not want to deal with the head or the tail. That's just gross. So I got two fillets for pretty much the same price as a whole one. I did keep the skin on, which is important to keep it from drying out.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs(any combination basil, thyme, dill and tarragon) (My note: Look for a package that has a blend of herbs to save money. I found one that was organic dill, parsley, and thyme, specifically made for seafood.)
5 green onions, chopped

Melt butter and stir in wine. Generously brush each trout, inside and out with wine mixture. Sprinkle salt and pepper over skin(really you want to do it over the flesh, you don't eat the skin) and spoon herbs and onions into fish cavities.(I carefully put the herbs and onions on top of each side of the fish and then carefully sandwiched them together. This seemed to work pretty well.) Grill over charcoal, basting often.(I used my grill pan and it worked just fine.) Cook until skin starts to crack and meat is white. Garnish with parsley and lemon.-Dean Anderson-Pocatello

I am not terribly experienced with trout, I have eaten it as a kid but for some reason I thought it was pink, like salmon. I always thought of trout as "poor man's salmon" but it really isn't at all. It was white and very delicate. It needed a lot of lemon to bring out the flavor. There are a lot of bones, I have heard this many times and that might be why I avoided it. If you have needle-nose pliers, though, and are willing to give it a few extra minutes, you can remove all the bones and it's just fine. Don't spend extra money on the super expensive kitchen pliers, just get the cheapo ones from the hardware section of a store. They're exactly the same at a fraction of the cost.

Before baking
 After baking

Pull Apart Onion Rolls
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 pkg. dry yeast
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. margarine(I used butter)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
Onion Butter Filling:
2 tsp. Instant minced onion
2 tsp. water
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese(I'm not a snob, I used the stuff from the can and it was just fine)
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds(mine were toasted)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

In large mixer bowl, combine 1 flour salt and yeast. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat milk, margarine, sugar and salt, stirring constantly until butter is almost melted. Add to flour mixture. Add egg and beat at low speed for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until double. Punch down, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll dough into an 8-inch square. Combine filling ingredients and spread over surface of dough. Cut dough into 16 squares and place, filling side up, in a greased 1 1/2-qt. casserole.(I used a 9"x13" pyrex dish. I found that it was very difficult to lift the topped dough and place it into the dish without the melted butter mixture running all over the place. I cut it in the dish. I would recommend placing the dough in the dish first, then topping it, then cutting it. Or you could cut it and then spoon the topping over it. But get it in the dish first or you'll make a huge mess.) Cover and let rise until nearly double. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes(I did 25), covering with foil after first 15 minutes. Cool in dish 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto serving platter. Serve warm.-Ruth Elliott-Viola

The rolls smelled really good going into the oven and I was surprised at how bland I found them when they'd baked. Maybe they needed more salt and Parmesan in the topping. That probably would have helped. Maybe if I'd sauteed fresh onions instead of using minced that would have helped too. Also, they were a little dry. I'm not sure if maybe I let them rise too much or in too warm of heat and it made them dry out, or what. I think they have potential though.

I was surprised at how not fishy the trout was. My apartment smells like herbs, not fish, which is really good. I might need to experiment with this fish more in the future. Sometimes it's hard though, when you live in salmon country, to branch out and try other fish. But fish is so good for you that I should probably make that effort. I served this with rice pilaf, and no vegetable because I was too lazy to make one. There's green stuff on the fish, that counts, right?



  1. Absolutely - green stuff on the fish definitely counts as a vegetable!

  2. You three and that crazy trip to Yellowstone!