Herbsaint Restaurant and Bar, Cochon, and Cochon Butcher, New Orleans
This is just one of the many dishes JBF Award winner Donald Link served when he brought a taste of New Orleans to the Beard House.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cup fish stock
- 1 pound (3 to 4) catfish fillets, cut into 4-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably white and finely ground
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- Juice of one lemon
- 5 basil leaves, coarsely torn
- 2 cups cooked white rice
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapeños, garlic, salt, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, and paprika. Sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, and simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer 10 minutes more. Remove skillet from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Season the catfish with salt and pepper. On a plate or in a pie tin, whisk together the flour and cornmeal. Dredge the filets in the flour and cornmeal mix, shaking to remove excess. Heat the oil or bacon fat in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the fish for 3 minutes on the rounder, fuller side, then flip the fish and add the reserved sauce. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Stir in the parsley, scallions, lemon juice, and basil.
To serve, gently remove the catfish with a spatula and set over the cooked rice. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the catfish.