Make enough brine to cover the number of fish you are smoking. Brine is easy and cheap to make so I usually just make a gallon unless I know for sure that I don't need that much.
Basic Brine Recipe
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 cup of coarse kosher salt
- 1 cup of brown sugar (Dark is best, light will work)
- ¼ cup of lemon juice (2 lemons squeezed, approx.)
Add the coarse kosher salt and lemon juice to the gallon of water in a large pitcher and mix until the salt is dissolved. Add the brown sugar and mix thoroughly.
Place the trout into a lidded bowl or a zip top bag
Pour enough brine over the fish to cover completely.
Seal the bowl or bag and place it in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Once the fish are done brining, rinse them under cold water to remove any residual salt.
Brush olive oil onto the entire inside flesh of the fish. This makes the Texas rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) stick to the fish really well and helps to keep the fish moist while it cooks.
Hold the trout open and sprinkle a good hefty portion of my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) into the inside of the fish.
Stuff the inside of the fish with equal portions of the oregano and chives.
I used about 2 teaspoons of each one per fish.
Don't be stingy with it!
Place about 3 slices of lemon into each fish
The fish are now ready to smoke.
Set up your smoker or grill with indirect heat maintaining 225°F and a light flavored wood such as alder or apple.
Once the smoker is ready, place the fish directly on the oiled grate.
Note: To make sure the trout do not stick to the rack or grate, you can place each fish on a piece of parchment paper cut to the basic footprint of the fish. Usually about 3 inches wide and 10-12 inches in length will work great for “good eating size” fish.
I often use a pan/rack to make it easy to transport the fish to and from the smoker. This time I simply used a bradley rack over a foil pan as a makeshift setup and it also works just fine.
A pan also catches the fish juices to keep my smoker clean (highly recommended).
The USDA recommends cooking the fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. I usually shoot for about 140°F or a little less at my house to end up with a much better product and since I know the fish will keep cooking for a few minutes after it's removed.
At this point the meat of the fish will flake easily and it will be perfectly done.
This will usually take about an hour.. mine took 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Use a high quality, quick instant read thermometer such as a Thermapen for things like this. Well worth the investment!
My Thermapen reads in a mere 2-3 seconds so I can take quick accurate readings without holding the door open very long and this is super important.
Thermapen Mk4 by ThermoWorks
Once the trout is smoked and ready, remove it from the smoker right away.
Serve the trout immediately for best results.