While there are no new episodes of Good Eats, watching the reruns was a favorite pastime of mine. Alton Brown’s approach to giving you a recipe reminded me of my own approach to teaching our Catholic Faith to Kiddo. What? Cooking and faith taught in the same way? Yep.
When I was growing up, we attended Catechism classes every Saturday morning in an old one-room school house that was across the street from our small parish. One of the things that really got my goat was the answer to the most basic question – why. Every time I pushed the Nuts for an answer so that I might better understand whys, their response was “because the church says so.” That’s like a parent always responding with “because I said so”. Granted, there are things in this world that are not open for debate – telling your child no when they wish to jump off a cliff immediately springs to mind – but there’s nothing wrong with also providing a reason.
When Kiddo began preparing for his own Catholic journey, I educated myself on the whys of faith. Knowing why is important, not only in faith, but in life. Alton Brown often explains why you don’t put the horse before the carriage in cooking.
I’m not going to bore you with step by step this is why simply to fry up some catfish, except to say this – if at all possible use US farm-raised catfish. Why? Two reasons – farm raised is a sustainable source for fish and with strict environmental controls, there is less likelihood of contamination. That’s it – that’s my lecture for today.
Speaking of today – did you know that President Ronald Reagan designated June 25 as National Catfish Day in 1987? He did so By Presidential Proclamation after Congress called for a National Catfish to be established by passing Joint Resolution 178. As an American, I am glad to know our congress can agree on some things and we are fortunate to live in a country that can declare a day be set aside for consuming bottom-dwelling nocturnal scaleless fish. All joking aside, this is a great recipe filled with true southern flavors.
Alton’s Southern Fried Catfish
1 qt Peanut Oil
1 cup Stone-Ground fine Cornmeal
1 cup all Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
6 (8 oz each) Catfish Fillet, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
3/4 cup Buttermilk
Heat the peanut oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature. This is especially important during the frying process as the temperature may drop.
Whisk the cornmeal and flour together in a shallow dish. Set aside.
Combine the seafood seasoning, kosher salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper in a small bowl. Season the catfish fillets evenly on both sides with the spice mixture.
Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish. Dip each catfish fillet into the buttermilk, flip once to coat both sides, hold over the dish and allow the excess buttermilk to drip off. Coat both sides of the fillets in the cornmeal mixture. Set the coated fillets on a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes. Allowing the fillets to rest once coated will help the batter adhere to the fish.
Gently add the fillets, 2 at a time, to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the fried fillets to a cooling rack set over a newspaper-lined half sheet pan. Repeat method with remaining fillets. Arrange the catfish on a serving platter and serve immediately.
Original Recipe: Alton Brown Food Network