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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Honoring Fathers with food

With tomorrow being Father’s Day, I thought I would honor a man who unfortunately I never had the chance to meet. Wesley Anderson is the father of my wife Peggy. He was a gentle giant of a man who also loved to spend time in the kitchen. He was known for doing large luncheons for the Lion’s club in Terrytown, La, where he was a member. 

Today, I am sharing with you a single dish, Catfish Courtbouillon. His was traditionally made with redfish, but I have already shared that with y’all before. I was told that when he would cook, he would use every spice and seasoning in the cabinet, along with every pot and pan that he could. While she enjoyed his cooking, my mother-in-law always dreaded the look of the kitchen after he was finished. There were pots, pans and seasonings everywhere. So, make a few trips to the pantry to gather all the ingredients and Let’s head to the kitchen!

Catfish Courtbouillon

While this recipe has numerous ingredients, it’s not a difficult dish to make. My father-in-law was known for his Redfish Courtbouillon. Here’s a twist on that using the most popular fish around these parts.

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium tomato, diced

1 jalapeño, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon each white pepper, black pepper, paprika

1/2 cup dry white wine or additional stock

1 1/2 cups fish, shrimp or seafood stock

1 pound catfish filets, cut into 4-inch pieces

1 cup Seafood Breading (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons canola oil or bacon fat

1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped scallions

Juice of 1 lemon

5 basil leaves, coarsely torn

Hot steamed rice, for serving.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, pepper, tomato, jalapeño, garlic, thyme, salt, white pepper, black pepper, and paprika and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the white wine, bring to a boil and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated, about 10 minutes, then add the stock and simmer 10 minutes more. Remove skillet from heat and cover to keep warm.

Season the catfish with salt and pepper. Put cornflour on a plate. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the catfish filets in cornflour, shaking to remove excess, and transfer to skillet. Sauté fish for 3 minutes on the rounder, fuller side, then flip the fish and add the sauce (using a spatula to scrape it into the skillet) and let simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Sprinkle in the parsley, scallions, lemon juice and fresh, torn basil.

To serve, gently remove the catfish with a slotted spatula and set over rice, then spoon a generous amount of sauce over the catfish.

Note: If not using wine, skip the 10 minutes to cook it down.

Seafood Breading

This breading is perfect for all fried seafood. Cornflour give the seafood a smooth mouthfeel that you don’t get from a coarser cornmeal.

3 pounds corn flour

3 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons black pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

Mix well. Store in an airtight container. It will hold for 3 months.

While I have had the pleasure of cooking meals for both my mother and mother-in-law, I never had the chance to do that for my father or father-in-law. I would have loved a chance to get in the kitchen with Wesley Anderson and do what we both like to do, cook up good food for people to enjoy! I want to wish all the fathers reading this a very Happy Father’s Day!

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