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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Dish to warm body soul

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

I don’t have many regrets when it comes to the kitchen. I am not afraid to try different things or cook in different kitchens. My biggest kitchen regret was that I was never able to cook with or eat food prepared by my father-in-law, Wesley Anderson.

I have been told by my in-laws that he and I would have gotten along great. They tell me that he made the best Jambalaya and Redfish Courtbouillon. I always joke back by saying that he makes the second best of those dishes. That remark always brings me dirty looks.

My father-in-law was a fixture in the Lions Club in New Orleans. It is for there meetings and fundraisers that he would put on his apron and please everyone with his tasty creations. I know that his jambalaya recipe is still floating around, although the recipe is scaled to serve 100 people. I am not sure if his Redfish Courtbouillon recipe has been saved.

My wife tells me that when it came to cooking, her dad would dirty every pot in the house and leave the kitchen looking like it was hit by a hurricane. She is thankful that I have spent many years working in restaurant kitchens. In the restaurant, you are taught to clean as you go. The reasoning is two-fold. One, a clean station keeps you from getting unnecessary things on the bottom of the plates that are being served. Secondly, by cleaning as you go, you have less to clean up at the end of the night when you are ready to go home. Since my wife cleans the kitchen after we eat, she is happy that the kitchen is mostly cleaned before she starts.

Redfish Courtbouillon (cou-be-yon) is found on many menus in New Orleans and the surrounding area. It is a great meal when the weather starts to turn cool. The Red Fish or Red Drum are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a medium dense, light meat with a mild to moderate flavor. If you can’t find Red Fish, it can be replaced with Catfish, Cod, Grouper or any like fish. Here is my homage to my father-in-law Wesley Anderson.

2 1/2 pounds Redfish Fillets, cut into chunks 2-3 inches wide 1/4 cup Flour 1/4 cup Butter 2 teaspoons Green Onions, chopped 2 cups Onions, chopped 1/2 cup Celery, chopped 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped 1 large can Tomatoes, drained reserving the liquid 3 cloves Garlic, minced 2 Bay Leaves 1/2 teaspoon Marjoram 1/4 teaspoon Basil Salt and Pepper to taste 1/4 teaspoon Thyme 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce, not Tabasco 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce 2 cups Seafood Or Chicken Stock Hot Cooked Rice

In a heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add the flour and cook for ten minutes or golden brown, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and stir in the green onions, onions, celery and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring often. Add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for three more minutes. Stir in the marjoram, basil salt, pepper, thyme, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly stir in one cup of the reserved tomato liquid and the stock. Simmer for five minutes. Add the redfish and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Serve over hot rice.

With the fall weather soon to be upon us, this wonderful dish is welcome to warm your body and soul. And thanks to Wesley for giving me my most precious gift, his daughter Peggy.

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