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George Washington’s love of fish was legendary. Living along two of Virginia’s major rivers assured him easy access to many varieties. In fact, the sole duty of a Washington enslaved man known as Father Jack was to provide fish for the table when the family was at Mount Vernon. According to Martha Washington’s grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, the cook “required” the fish to be available at a specific time, “so that they might be served smoking on the board precisely at three o’clock.”

Hannah Glasse suggested that a sauce “according to your fancy” should accompany this dish. Try it, for example, with melted butter sauce or remoulade. This recipe is a modern adaptation by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.


  • 6 to 8 freshwater trout (about 8 ounces each), cleaned and butter-flied
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Lightly season the trout on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge well on both sides in the flour.

2. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the lard and butter. When the pan sizzles, reduce the heat to medium. Add the trout fillets, flesh-sides-down, and cook for about 3 minutes. Carefully turn the fillets, and cook about 3 more minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan, and drain thoroughly on paper towels.

3. Transfer the fillets to a platter, and serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8