Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Catfish Cookery- Part Two
I have spent much time looking through my New Orleans cookbooks for catfish recipes. I looked in vain. For it seems that when cooks and chefs are minutes away from redfish and pompano and whiting,they choose to cook from the sea and not from a farm pond. I would have to look to inland and bayou Louisiana to see if the catfish had admirers there.
And it does,in the very fish camps and gentlemen's sporting clubs where happy judges and doctors escape from their families and wives. I found my unique catfish recipe in the same book and in the same chapter where I once found Judge Fred A. Blanche's recipe for fried squirrel. The book is "River Road Recipes 2. A Second Helping", and the chapter is "How Men Cook." The ladies of the Baton Rouge Junior League collected these recipes, and though no catfish is likely to make it into their kitchen,they are tolerant of the low habits of husbands away at camp with the boys.
Judge Blanche was content with cast iron pans and squirrels cut up into serving pieces. Dr. Malcolm J. Leveque was more inventive. More ambitious. He saw the possibilities for two pounds of catfish fillets cut into cornmeal coated fried nuggets and stuffed inside a hollowed out toasted loaf of unsliced bread, along with a jar of olives,half a dozen sour pickles,a sliced Bermuda onion, and a sauce made from 2 cups of ketchup,Tabasco sauce,Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper. And even then he was not through- Back on went the top of the decapitated loaf,which he then wrapped in foil and baked for ten minutes. I am sure the Doctor and his buddies did not waste one minute thinking about what wine would compliment this dish. Their malt whiskey would be just fine.
But as baroque and original as this recipe is,it does not appeal to me. I will spend one more day looking for a catfish recipe I would like to cook. If I do not find it, it's back to cornmeal and pan fried.
To be continued....