Friday, November 11, 2005
As you all know, I am blessed with a cadre of friends who are great cooks. A few weeks ago I went to a catfish feast at the home of Sonny and Ginger Reese. Sonny, who in his "day job" is a manufacturer's representative selling commercial sound and paging systems, is the cook of the family. He also does occasional wedding photography, strictly by word of mouth, almost as a hobby. But food is one of his passions, and he takes every opportunity to cook and entertain friends.
When a house fire a few years ago did considerable damage to the kitchen, it was redesigned with Sonny in mind. The range, sink and cabinets are several inches taller than usual height. Ginger, who teaches English at Lausanne, and is a much shorter person than Sonny, is happy to sit back and let Sonny do it all! The remodeling includes an island that overlooks the cooking area, with tall chairs so guests can sit, chat, watch and share the treats as they come off the stove.
And that evening the treats were flying off the stove! Our first bites were excellent little hush puppies, crisp and brown on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside. Next we had catfish cakes with a spicy cocktail sauce and grated parmesan cheese for dipping.
Then came a massive platter of fried catfish, with cole slaw and fries. And finally, when we all thought we couldn't possible eat more, a wonderful catfish meuniere, Creole style, with a zesty pecan butter sauce. Every dish was seasoned with "Sonny Salt." This is a unique blend of seasonings, which he created and has recently started having packaged to sell commercially. He uses it pretty much anytime a recipe calls for salt.
And we still weren't finished: for dessert we had a great lemon pie with just the right sharp citrus taste to top off such an abundance of food!
I had such a hard time trying to decide which dish to share with you...but the final dish of the evening was so tasty that I thought that this is the one you would most like to recreate. It looks like a long recipe, but some of it can be done ahead. And all it needs is a crisp green salad on the side. Give it a try!
SONNY’S CATFISH MEUNIERE
3 tbsp soft butter
2 tbsp roasted pecans
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup seafood or chicken stock
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup butter
6 catfish filets, about 6 ounces each
3 tbsp Sonny Salt*
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
8 ounces roasted pecans
Make the pecan butter: place all ingredients into a food processor and process to a smooth puree. Set aside.
Make the meuniere sauce: Combine flour and water to a smooth paste. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring stock, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to a boil. With a wire whisk, beat some of the hot stock mixture into the flour paste. Then gradually pour the flour mixture back into the stock, whisking constantly. Simmer briefly, then whisk the butter in a tablespoon at a time.
For the fish, sprinkle the filets with two tablespoons of Sonny Salt. Set aside. In a pie plate, beat eggs with milk. In another, mix the flour with the remaining Sonny Salt. Dip filets first in flour, then in the egg mixture, then in the flour mixture again and set aside on a baking sheet.
In a large skillet, heat half the butter over medium heat. Add half the catfish and cook 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once. Transfer to warmed serving platter and cook remaining filets.
To serve, spread the pecan butter evenly over the filets and sprinkle with the pecans. Warm the meuni?re sauce and pour over the top. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
NOTE: Sonny Salt is available locally in several specialty markets, including Mantia's. If you aren't in the Memphis area, use a good brand of seasoning salt, or e-mail us and we'll send it to you!