Thursday, February 17, 2011

Soul Food

This week's cookbook is The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations From Two Great American Cooks by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

Catfish Stew

(Makes enough to serve 6)

Catfish is a Southern favorite, particularly fresh-caught for summer fish fries. Today it is farm-raised and widely available all year round, with firm white flesh that can be prepared many ways. Here we use it in a delicate, light stew--almost a soup-- that's delicious and quite beautiful too.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 large onion, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
8 small new potatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
2 small ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups water
2 pounds catfish fillet, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely snipped parsley
4 green onions or scallions, white and 2 inches of green, very thinly sliced

Heat the butter and bacon fat in a heavy saucepan until foaming. Add the diced onion and shallot, and cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Toss the garlic, thyme, and salt into the pan, and cook 5 minutes longer. Add the sliced carrot and potatoes, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, white wine, and water, and bring to a simmer. Cook at a simmer, skimming the surface occasionally, until the potatoes and carrot are tender, about 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, season the catfish pieces liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper. When the potatoes are tender, add the seasoned catfish, parsley, and scallions to the pot. Cook, partially covered, a a very low simmer for 5 minutes. Taste carefully for seasoning, adding more salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.

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