Blackened Catfish with Manchego Grits
So many times I have ordered blackened fish, shrimp or chicken only to find that it is too salty and too spicy, to the point that I can’t enjoy the entrée. The store bought premade blackened seasoning is usually way too salty and spicy as well. Making your own blackened seasoning gives you control over both the saltiness and the spiciness of the seasoning. I use this recipe on fish, shrimp, chicken or steak; even my kids enjoy this without the overpowering burn that some blackened seasonings can leave behind. Serving the blackened fish over cheese grits also soothes any burn that might be associated with the blackened seasoning. Be mindful that many grits recipes call for a rather large portion of grits per serving. I use just a cup per serving and it is just right amount with a small to medium size catfish fillet which are tenderer than larger pieces. Large catfish fillets are better fried because they are often a bit tough and the crunch from the batter hides this dilemma. For some this recipe might not be enough to fill them up for dinner so sometimes when I have guests, I will also serve a salad along the side.
1 1/4 cup stone ground grits, rinsed
2 cup whole milk
2 cup chicken broth
1 ½ cup Manchego cheese, grated
Rinsed the grits in a medium bowl by swirling them around in water that is at least 2 inches higher than the grits in the bowl. Anything that floats to the top skimmed off and discard. Drain the grits. Bring the milk and the chicken broth to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the grits so no lumps form. Partially cover the grits and stir occasionally for about 45- 60 minutes or until the grits are the right consistency. When they are done remove from heat and add the cheese. Do not add salt or butter. There is enough salt from the chicken broth and the cheese brings in a nice nutty flavor.
yields 6 cups
3 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Mix everything together in a small bowl.
6 small to medium catfish fillets
1 recipe of blackened seasoning
3 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided or more if needed
Rinse the catfish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the blackened seasoning on both sides of each fillet and rub it in with your fingers. Heat 1 ½ Tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 fillets at a time making sure not to crowd them. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side and remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining fillets.
Ladle 1 cup of Manchego grits into each bowl and top with a catfish fillet. Serve immediately.