Friday, June 12, 2009

A Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Fried Catfish

After the horror of the oyster pie, I decided to go a little easier on myself and my southern cravings.  Find something that's not quite so far on the fringes.  Something that's so incredibly good that you spend 20 minutes trying to figure out exactly how much you can eat without making yourself sick.  You may think I'm kidding, but when you find yourself standing over the plate of hot, crisp catfish, don't say I didn't warn you.  And don't skip the lard.

Fried Catfish
Adapted from A Love Affair with Southern Cooking by Jean Anderson

4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup self-rising flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons lard

Lay the catfish fillets in a dish with high sides and pour the buttermilk over them. Let rest in the refrigerator for one hour. When the hour is up, turn the fillets and refrigerate for another hour.

When catfish is done marinating, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and both peppers in a shallow dish. Take each fillet and shake gently to remove excess buttermilk. Lay in the dish with the cornmeal mixture, and pat the dry ingredients onto the fillets until well breaded. Gently shake off excess.

Heat half of oil and lard in a heavy frying pan or iron skillet. When the fat is hot, add the fish fillets. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the fillets, add the remaining oil and lard, and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. Drain the fillets on a paper towel and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

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