Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blackened Catfish with Crawfish Etouffee

Catfish fillets, dredged in blackening seasonings and cooked in a hot cast iron skillet, served over Cajun Rice Pilaf and finished with an etouffee sauce with crawfish.
Catfish fillets, dredged in blackening seasonings and cooked in a hot cast iron skillet, served over Cajun Rice Pilaf and finished with an etouffee sauce with crawfish.

Blackened Catfish with Crawfish Etouffee

Southerners have been blackening foods since Paul Prudhomme came up with this method many years ago. Heavy seasonings seared into a piece of protein is heaven on a plate, and most of us in the Deep South have eaten it in some form or another in our lives.

It started with redfish, and seafood is most common here along the Gulf Coast of course, with catfish certainly taking a top spot on the list. These are the gorgeous filets I used this round.

Aren't they so beautiful and fresh looking? The good folks at Eat Y'all, sent me some of these Delacata fillets to try and let me say this right off the bat. I have been eating catfish all of my life, but I swear before the good Lord as my witness, I have never had catfish like this. If you know anything about fish, you can see how pure these pieces are.

Delacata is like the filet mignon of catfish y'all, and it comes from Simmons Catfish, but the taste is so fresh, you will swear you just fished them out of a pond yourself!

This is a good place to insert a quick reminder... that this is a blog, not just a "recipe site," and yes, there is a difference! I want to first thank all of you who have supported my work over the years. Your notes to me are uplifting and encouraging, however, if you aren't interested in the chit chat, info, photos, tips and such in a post, as always, you'll find the complete recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Simmons catfish are grown in man-made ponds, right in the rich soil of the Mississippi Delta. The ponds are filled with filtered, fresh water that is pumped in from underground wells. It arrives at your home in an insulated container, and in an ice-glazed, flash-frozen state, each individually quick frozen (IQF), so that you can remove whatever you need from the bag and quickly defrost for last minute menu planning.

Simmons carries a full line of catfish, but the Delacata catfish are center cut, premium catfish fillets that are deep skinned and hand trimmed, giving them a firm texture and meaty flake, similar to grouper, halibut and snapper, at a significantly lower cost. The flavor is mild and versatile making them perfect for a wide variety of recipes outside of the typical frying we often do with catfish, and there are plenty of recipes to try at the Simmons catfish website.

Simmons catfish is currently available to consumers fresh from the catfish farm and right to your doorstep, where you can buy them whole, in strips, steaks, fillets, pre-marinated, breaded, as well as these beautiful prime cut, Delacata fillets.

They are low in fat, high in Omega-3, and an excellent source of protein, as well as Vitamin B-12. From the site, shipments go out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, via FedEx, and shipping cost is included in the website pricing.

I decided to blacken my first round with the Delacata, so I headed outside with my trusty cast iron to give it a spin on my grill. While you can technically blacken with any skillet, and indoors, cast iron is the truest and best vehicle for the best char, but the super high heat required can smoke up your house and set off the smoke alarm, and the blackening seasonings can open up your sinuses for sure, so I like to blacken using my cast iron skillet outside on the grill.

When you're ready to cook the catfish, preheat your grill and the pan on the highest flame.


This is a good basic blackening seasoning that you can use for fish, chicken, pork, anything you want to blacken. Since I'm serving a small crawfish etouffee with the catfish, we'll start with that.

Go ahead and blend together the seasonings and set them aside. 

Prepare the etouffee first by melting the 1/2 stick of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the flour.

Cook and stir for about 4 minutes or until caramel colored.

Add the onion, bell pepper and celery; cook another 3-4 minutes or until tender, add the garlic and cook another minute. 

Slowly stir in the stock or broth until fully incorporated. I had a carton of Kitchen Bouquet vegetable stock in the fridge I needed to use up so that's what I used here. Isn't it beautiful and rich?

Add the pepper and Cajun/Creole seasoning. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to a medium low simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the crawfish tails, cook and stir until crawfish is heated through. Since I'm using this as a sauce, I'm only using about 1/4 pound of crawfish, which makes it a little more economical. When we have a crawfish boil or pick some up already boiled, I always peel and set aside some to freeze.

Stir in the parsley and green onion, reserving a bit for garnish. 

Hold over very low simmer.

After the grill and pan are preheated, brush catfish fillets with melted butter on both sides and dredge with the blackening seasonings, pressing the seasoning deep into the fillets. Reserve remaining butter. 

Place fillets presentation side down and drizzle melted butter on top. Cook fillets about 4 minutes or until charred on the bottom.

With spatula, carefully turn fish. Pour more butter over the top and cook about 4 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. 

Actual cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the fillets you are using as well as the consistency of the heat on your skillet.

I served mine over a bed of rice pilaf, which is easily made ahead. Add a nice mixed garden salad or green veggies on the side and you're good to go!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, however, I did receive free Delacata product from Simmons Catfish to try. Original recipe and any opinions stated herein are honest and are my own.

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