Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24: Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish and Green Rice Pilaf

5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 pound fresh spinach leaves, trimmed and cleaned
20 fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, 1/2 juiced, the other half cut into wedges
4 6- to 8-ounce catfish fillets
1 cup yellow cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium sauce pot filled three-quarters full with water to a boil.

Heat a second medium saucepan or pot over moderate heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the EVOO, the butter, shallots, thyme, salt, and pepper. Saute the shallots for 2 minutes, then add the rice and lightly brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the wine and allow it to evaporate entirely, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover the rice and reduce the heat. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until tender.

Salt the boiling water in the other pot and add the parsley, spinach, and basil. Stir to submerge the greens for 30 seconds, then carefully take the pot to the sink.

Use a slotted spoon or a spider to remove the greens to a colander. Discard the water. Rinse the greens under slow-running cold water to stop the cooking process. Give the greens a gentle squeeze to get rid of the excess water. Transfer the cooled, drained greens to a blender or food processor. Add about 2 teaspoons of EVOO and the lemon juice. Puree until completely smooth. Reserve the puree for finishing the cooked rice.

Preheat a large oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of EVOO. Season the catfish with salt and pepper and coat evenly and completely in the cornmeal. Add the coated fish to the hot skillet and sear for 2 minutes on each side, then transfer the skillet with the fish to the oven and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is firm to the touch and opaque.

Once the rice is cooked, add the reserved greens puree and stir with a fork to combine and fluff the rice.

Pile the rice onto dinner plates and serve the cornmeal-crusted catfish on top. Pass the lemon wedges at the table.


I changed the ingredients from 5 tablespoons to 5 teaspoons of EVOO. Also I changed the fresh thyme to dried. This dinner was very good, even with the fat cut back. I loved the catfish. I don't know why, but I didn't buy a shallot for this recipe, so I just used 1/2 small onion.

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