A rainbow of flavors: Freshwater trout with a Mediterranean tapenade

Missouri is really known for trout,” says Robert Padilla, executive chef and owner of Trezo Mare in Briarcliff. “We get ours from Steelville, Missouri, where you can also catch them yourself.” If you don’t fish, he recommends you buy rainbow trout from a store that emphasizes “trust and care of the product.”

True to the seasonal-comfort-food-done-well philosophy at Trezo Mare, he serves this freshwater fish with a Mediterranean tapenade, a velvety French butter sauce, sautéed kale and basmati rice. “The buerre blanc is lightly infused with garlic and fresh thyme, flavors that go well with white wine,” he says.

It’s All Coming Together Quite Nicely

Classic French Emulsion Sauces

In Chef Robert Padilla’s rainbow trout recipe, he literally whips up one of the classic French butter sauces, a buerre

or “white butter.” This is one of many emulsion sauces that rely on technique to get that smooth, velvety, almost ethereal texture without the heaviness of flour as a thickener.

Emulsion sauces require the patience of the risotto maker. You have to go slow and watch carefully. These aren’t for a jangly weekday hurry-up dinner. They’re for channeling your inner Julia Child, whisk in one hand, a glass of wine in the other.

Aioli, popular in the south of France and in many casual restaurants, is potent with garlic. It’s a more flavorful relative of mayonnaise, made by whirring lemon juice, Dijon mustard and raw egg yolks together, then drizzling in olive oil, a little at a time until the whole thing comes together in a pale, smooth and thick sauce.

Hollandaise—that blend of egg yolks, butter, and lemon juice—is often a blank canvas for Kansas City chefs. Alex Pope used to make a browned butter hollandaise when he was at R Bar. Bacon fat hollandaise graces the huevos Benedictos at Patrick Ryan’s Port Fonda brunch. Jane Zieha’s Blue Bird Bistro uses organic butter in their version.

For Béarnaise, a grilled filet mignon’s best friend, dry white wine with shallots and tarragon simmer down to almost a tablespoon. Then, off the heat, egg yolks get whisked in, and then, cubes of cold butter, one at a time, over low heat until voila!  The sauce emulsifies.

Although, sometimes it doesn’t. You turn your back and the Béarnaise goes from perfect to curdled. That’s when you want a French chef’s secret for restoring youth and vitality: You take the pan of sauce off the heat and whisk in an ice cube. And again, voila! Instant replay and the call now goes your way.

Seared Missouri Trout with Olive and Artichoke Tapenade and Buerre Blanc


Serves 4

Olive and Artichoke Tapenade

small jar artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped

1/4 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and finely chopped

1/4 cup mixed green and Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped

clove garlic, minced

fresh thyme sprig

Italian parsley stems 

tablespoons olive oil

Juice from half a lemon

Buerre Blanc

tablespoon vegetable /olive oil mixture

small shallot, peeled and finely diced

cloves garlic, flattened with a chef’s knife

1/2 cup dry white wine

Juice from half a lemon

thyme sprigs

ounces unsalted butter, cut into cubes and kept cold


(6-ounce) rainbow trout fillets

tablespoons vegetable /olive oil mixture

Salt and pepper

For the tapenade: Combine the artichokes, peppers, garlic, and olives in a bowl. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprig and parsley stems and stir them in; discard the stems. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice. Set aside.

For the Buerre Blanc: Heat the vegetable/olive oil mixture in a saucepan over low heat. Cook the shallot and garlic slowly until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add lemon juice, white wine, and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Let reduce by half, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter, a cube at a time, until it emulsifies into the sauce. Season. Pass the sauce through a strainer, discard the solids, and keep the finished sauce warm over a pan of warm water.

For the trout: Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brush the fish with the vegetable/ olive oil mixture and season with salt and pepper. Sear the fish, skin side down, for 1 to 2 minutes or until the skin does not stick. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the fish turns white and opaque.

Serve the fish fillets with basmatic rice, sautéed kale, artichoke and olive tapenade, and nap with buerre blanc.