Foraging for Food: Mackerel

You know it’s been awhile since you posted when it’s mid-December and the start of your post is “Over Thanksgiving…”.  Sorry ’bout that, Papers/presentations/exams/parties got in the way.  Hopefully I can get back on track and make some good meals over the next few weeks.

Over Thanksgiving, the Ryan bros and Kristi headed down to Naples to visit Ma Ryan.  Once we all arrived Thursday AM the process of eating way too much began, starting with a midday Thanksgiving buffet at the Ritz.  But, we didn’t want to miss out on Thanksgiving leftovers so we made a turkey and fixins anyway.

Tim and I put together our “stuffing of the gods” which we started making 5 years ago thanks to some creativity by Tim.  Dry white bread, onions, celery, garlic, lots of sage, and Jimmy Dean sausage.  It could also be called “stuffing of the borderline obese,” but our name helps us feel a little better about ourselves.

Mmmm, stuffing of the gods. The ones that eat pork at least

Well, if you thought that was over the top, you’re not going to feel much better once you see the way we sent our turkey into the oven.

Mom's kitchen lighting is a whole lot better than our Philly apartment's

We learned this one from Aunt Jeannie who cooks her turkey with thin cut slices of salt pork laying on top.  The salt pork, or bacon in our case, keeps the skin moist and gives the pan gravy a smoky flavor.  The key is removing it halfway through the cooking process so that the skin gets crispy without drying out.  Oh, and eating it after you remove it.  We also added a new twist this year:

A little sneaky sage with every slice of bacon

Ryan’s love sage and Kristi is learning to love it.  Also, note the full cavity of stuffing which I successfully accomplished this year without punching my hand out the other side.  It came out of the oven a few hours later while I was in the process of getting ready for our Ritz trip.  The resulting photo was posted by Tim on NYT.com.

My emotions associated with this are far closer to pride than embarrassment

Nothing says Thanksgiving like mustaches, undershirts and white boxer briefs!  A short three hours later I was more full than I have ever been before and it was only 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  That buffet completely knocked us out of commission and we barely touched the turkey until much later in the vacation.

John ate an absurd amount at the buffet. At 6:30, when Tim and I were still breathing in a labored manner from overeating, we finally wondered where John had disappeared to. That query led to us discovering him fast asleep on an ottoman where he had been for over an hour, still in his Ritzin' outfit

Which brings us to the title of this post.  The day after Thanksgiving, my mom arranged for a family fishing boat charter.  According to our captains, the plan was to troll for Spanish Mackerel and Kingfish and then bottom fish for Grouper.  I was very excited since I love catching or finding blah blah blah blah blah blah.  No need to repeat that statement for the 50th time on this blog.

Mommy and Tim cattily critiquing the multi-million dollar waterfront properties on the way out to sea. Stephen Spielberg's massive house, that he has probably only been to once or twice, was a highlight

Once we got out of the channel and into the gulf, Captain Al (my guess is his nickname is “Big Al”) secured two rods and put two trolling lines out.  Which is when the anxious staring began.  What you don’t realize until you actually see a fish on the line is that it is completely unmistakable, so I was jumping up every time a line twitched slightly.  After I reeled in a small mackerel that fell off the hook, Tim jumped for the next fish on the line which was significantly bigger.

Cameras don't lie the way your eyes can in the moment. That little silver shimmer looked like Tim was reeling in a trash can at the time

Tim’s a big guy, but it was definitely a battle for him.  The fish were too small to justify a chair, so it was just a lot of pulling, reeling, and then the fish taking some line out.  Eventually he got it close to the boat.

Things going through my mind: "Is that a tuna? I bet its a tuna", "How come Tim gets to reel in the big one? Stupid jerk, I'll show him" and "Should I ask if there is anything gross on the fish that I can eat raw?"

Big Al moved quicker, and with more precision, than I thought possible and hooked the kingfish to bring it on board.  To say that there was a lot of adrenaline and jubilation aboard the boat is an understatement.

Thats a fish to be proud of Tim. Jerk

With Tim’s 30″ kingfish kicking off the trip, and this post getting way too long, lets hit on everybody’s big catch of the day.

Oh, thats an adorable Spanish Mackerel, John! Maybe we can salt it and use it as a pizza topping if you catch a few more! (oh, and thats Big Al)

She throws a baseball better than me, runs faster than me (despite two knee reconstructions), knows more about hunting than me, and now catches bigger fish than me. Cuz shes my wahf... ... ... and thats mah life

To get revenge on Kristi for emasculating me by constantly outdoing me, I like to grow the most masculine mustaches known to man each November

Mommy Ryan CRUSHED us in the grouper fishing portion of the trip by catching the largest grouper by far. However, the fish came up about an inch short of the limit, which was a big bummer. How 'bout Kristi striking a pose like she's modeling high heels in the background?!?!?

The photo order isn’t entirely accurate.  I actually caught my mackerel late in the trip.  Previously, I had only caught a bunch of sand perch and a decent sized bonito tuna.  Although the tuna was a decent fight, they are apparently pretty gross to eat since all of the meat is similar to the bloodline on a regular tuna.  So, basically, I was being a brat and insisted on reeling in the fish we trawled for late in the trip since I wanted to catch something we would eventually eat.

I really enjoyed fishing in Naples.  The quality and freshness of the fish combined with cooking made for a great day.  Plus Big Al and co. have a well run and totally reasonably priced business that I would recommend to anyone.

I had originally planned on making thanksgiving, fishing trip, fish cleaning, and the fish meal all one post, but this is already way too long.  Plus, it means I will definitely have a post to put up early next week.  Till then…

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4 thoughts on “Foraging for Food: Mackerel

  1. I loved this one and didn’t think it was too long at all. I will be hitting re-fresh over and over til you post the newbie behb. I can’t wait to see how you used sage and bacon with that holy mackerel!

  2. There are a bunch of lines in this post that had me chuckling. Two of my favorites: “without punching my hand out the other side” and “Big Al moved quicker, and with more precision, than I thought possible.”

  3. I have been waiting for this post…I wish it was much longer though. It kinda reminds me of the 2003 World Series, except you’re the Cubs and Tim is the Sawx and this time the Marlins won and played the Yankees. Know what I mean?

  4. Nice one- great pics! I really enjoyed the “cuz shes my wahf… … … and thats mah life” comment because it brought me straight back to the groomsmen house in VT where Marsh repeated this to various fake tunes on the guitar and rambled on about kimberly.

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