Trout Cook-Off celebrates summer’s arrival in Keystone
What better way is there to celebrate the arrival of summer in the High Country than with a trout festival?Thanks to the folks at Keystone Lodge, this Saturday may mark the beginning of a trout-tasting tradition, as the resort hosts its inaugural Keystone Lodge Trout Cook-Off.According to Keystone Lodge food and beverage director Ken Hamko, it’s the perfect way to kick off a perfect High Country season.”For several years now, we’ve ended the summer with the Taste of Keystone on Labor Day, and this year we were looking for something that could start the season,” Hamko said. “And it’s a good combination, with the fly-fishing season beginning.”Hamko added that, since all of the fly-fishing venues in the area are catch-and-release only, the trout used in the cook off will be farm-grown trout, not local catch.About half a dozen chefs from Keystone resorts and restaurants will participate, with prizes going to the tastiest fare. As an added bonus, festival recipes will be made available to the public.Festival-goers can purchase $1 tickets when they arrive, and each trout-tasting stand will offer taste plates for a cost of three to five tickets. Beverage booths will also be on hand, serving soft drinks and water as well as beer and wine.As for the competition itself, the Keystone event is a bit different from most outdoor cook offs. Instead of bringing in independent judges, event organizers are inviting the public to do the judging. All festival attendees will get voting sheets, which they can mark with their favorites. At the end of the day, the votes will be tabulated and trophies and ribbons awarded for the best-tasting dishes.Keystone Lodge executive chef Scott Radek is used to competition, having participated in the Taste of Keystone every year. “Actually, the Taste of Keystone is more of a grudge-match than a competition,” he laughed.Chef Radek has been with Keystone Lodge since 1986, and oversees the resort’s three restaurants: Champeaux, the Edgewater Café and the Bighorn Steakhouse – where he serves up trout on a nightly basis.”Trout is a staple in Colorado, so people expect it here,” he said. “If you don’t have it on the menu, you’re doing a disservice to your guests. It’s always on the menu at the Bighorn Steakhouse.”For the cook off, Chef Radek will prepare two dishes: Grilled Trout with Corn Salsa and Red Chile Aioli and Trout with Balsamic Tomato Chutney. Chef Radek with have his sauces and 200 portions of trout prepped and ready to go beforehand, and individual tasting portions will be grilled to order during the festival. For those more interested in catching trout than cooking them, Summit Guides instructor Dale Fields will be holding a casting competition, as well as demonstrating some basic fly-fishing skills. And for the younger crowd, face-painting booths and balloon animals will be on hand.After a bout of trout-tasting, guests can partake of the seasonal offerings provided by the lake, which include paddle boating and canoeing, as well as bike rentals. And in true outdoor festival fashion, booths will be set up along the lake path, offering gifts and souvenirs from local shops.
“It’s going to be a tasty event – and it’s a beautiful walk around the lake,” said Hamko.BOX: The Keystone Lodge Trout Cook-offWhen: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.Where: Keystone Lake Village. Parking will be available across the street at the Keystone Lodge parking area.Recipes to be cooked by Keystone Lodge Executive Chef Scott Radek:Grilled Trout with Corn Salsa and Red Chile Aioli• Red Chile Aioli1/4 cup vinegar1 cup chili powder1/2 cup garlic1 red bell pepper1/2 cup pasteurized eggs4 cups oil2 tablespoons salt
Puree all ingredients except oil and vinegar, then stream in oil and vinegar to form an emulsification• Corn Salsa12 corn on the cob, roasted and cut from ear2 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and diced1/2 cup lime juice3 medium onions, finely dicedPinch of garlic2 tablespoons oregano2 tablespoons jalapeno choppedSalt to taste1/2 cup olive oil Mix all ingredients together
Trout with Balsamic Tomato Chutney Balsamic Tomato Chutney30 Roma tomatoes1 yellow onion1 teaspoon dry ginger1 teaspoon allspice1/2 teaspoon marjoram2 tablespoons blended oil1/4 cup balsamic vinegar2 teaspoons salt1 teaspoon pepper Half and seed tomatoes, place in bowl and toss with oil. Grill tomatoes on skin side until black, chill and remove skins. Dice and sweat onions. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 15 minutes. Whisk to break up tomatoes and simmer until they’re a chunky consistency. Adjust seasoning. Transfer to metal container and chill.
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