When planning the trip, my first thoughts turned, of course, to food, and in particular to eating freshly caught trout four different ways over the four day trip. I was surprised to learn that we weren’t supposed to even keep, much less eat, these fish we were catching, and that doing so would be harmful to the delicate balance of the alpine ecosystem—or something righteous like that. (One of these guys is a labor rights lawyer so the whole weekend was filled with alcohol-fueled righteousness.) I was even more surprised that these two companions of mine almost never eat the fish they catch. I was, however, in the end promised that we would actually try to catch some fish at a nearby reservoir, which I was told made for very boring fishing, very much beneath these fly-fishermen, but if it would shut me up we could get some big fish that we could cook.
It ended up that we weren’t able to catch any of those fabled lake fish, and well-thought out, logical excuses abounded. But I was fine with that because the alpine meadows we visited over the last several days were so gorgeous, and the weather so perfect that it was a fabulous trip even if I did not eat any fish that I caught, held upside down, cooed to, unhooked, caressed and with mixed emotions let go. So instead of fish, on the last night, we had to improvise.
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My non-righteous friend and I shopped for this trip without any real plan. He is a fabulous cook and I can hold my own so we figured we would just get what looked good and then work it out. So when we got back to camp, fish-less, apart from two full bags of frosted animal crackers (they looked really good in the store), we had apples, chorizo, potatoes, onion, garlic, tomatoes and dried chiles. No fish, but not bad.
We first cooked the chorizo in a cast-iron dutch oven. In the leftover grease we starting browning the potatoes. We then added an apple, diced onions and garlic, and braised the whole thing in some beer with a dash of salt and oregano until the potatoes were soft. For the salsa we roasted the tomatoes, garlic, onions and dried anchos in a cast iron skillet until nicely blackened then roughly chopped them, mixed them together and finished it off in the same pan, frying in some oil to help the flavors come together. In the end it really worked. The spicy, flavorful chorizo was highlighted perfectly by the tart, sweet apple and balanced by the onion and garlic, while all the greasy goodness was soaked up in the browned potatoes. The somky-sweet salsa gave it even more depth and flavor. It was actually really good. If we had tortillas it would have been an incredible, restaurant-worthy taco. Denver's elite foodies would galdly cough up $24 for three little ones at