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Monday, October 26, 2009

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Bacon & Cheddar Grits

As you may have noticed, I'm slowly working my way into southern cuisine. I used to be afraid of it...the okra, the tons of butter, the grits (what are those?). But I've developed a few favorites. I'd never actually bought or cooked catfish until a couple of weeks ago. It's very cheap and tasty and great with this rich side. My cousin and his girlfriend were visiting a few weeks ago and we went to a new restaurant. They had a catfish and grits special and it was it is with a little bit of my own flare...

2-3 strips of bacon
1 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt (if you have it)
1/4 cup panko (if you have it)
2 eggs, beaten
2 medium catfish fillets
4 tbsp butter
2 1/3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup old fashion grits (not quick-cooking)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. In a large pan, fry the bacon on medium high heat until crispy.

2. While bacon is cooking, beat the eggs in a bowl and pour the cornmeal and panko onto a large plate.

3. One at a time, dip the fillets into the egg and then dredge in the cornmeal/panko mixture until well coated. Set the fillets aside.

4. Put the chicken broth in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil.

5. Add the grits to the broth and reduce heat to low. Add salt and cover. Stir occasionally.

6. When bacon is done, pull out of the pan and lay on a paper towel until cool.

7. Take a paper towel and soak up about 1/2 of the bacon fat in the pan - leave enough so that a thick layer remains.

8. Add a little olive oil if you need to.

9. Add the catfish to the pan. While the fish is frying, chop the bacon into small bits and add to the grits.

10. Fry the fishuntil browned on both sides and then remove from heat.

11. When grits have absorbed all of the broth and are creamy, add the shredded cheese and stir until melted.

*Serve the fish over the grits. Great with a side of steamed broccoli!!

Seafood & Butternut Squash Risotto

The leaves are changing and I wanna eat butternut squash. Shrimp and scallops make it so much better, especially with creamy risotto. Risotto really doesn't take that much effort to cook...this is restaurant quality in your own kitchen!

1 cup Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sage
6 sea scallops, cut in half or quarters
4-5 medium sized shrimp, tails off and cut in half
1 handful of mushrooms, chopped into chunks
1/2 butternut squash in 1/4-1/2 inch cubes

1. Pour the broth into a saucepan and heat at medium high.

2. In a different medium sized saucepan, saute the onion in a little olive oil. Add garlic once the onion starts to get soft. Add the sage and mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms get softer.

3. Add the rice to the onions and mushroom mixture and stir until it turns a light brown.

4. Add the wine to the rice and simmer until reduced by half.

5. Using a ladle, add about 1/2 cup of the hot broth to the rice and stir. Simmer and still frequently until the broth is almost absorbed. Then add another ladle of broth and repeat the process until all of the broth has been used and the rice starts to soften.

*Be careful not to let too much liquid evaporate in between the addition of'll make the rice sticky and pastey instead of creamy.

6. When you're down to about 2 ladles of broth left, add the squash. The squash should soften up by the time the risotto is done.

7. When about half of the final ladle of broth has been absorbed, add the scallops and shrimp. Stir gently until the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.