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Pecan-Crusted Catfish with Lemon-Jalape�o Drizzle
Makes 4 to 6 Servings
Today's catfish is farm-raised and delicately flavored, and doesn't taste like the muddy-flavored ones from Dad's fishing trips. If you are just too stubborn to give the new catfish a try, make this recipe with perch or snapper fillets.
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
four 6-ounce catfish fillets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 scallion, white and green parts, minced
1 jalape�o pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1. Position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 350�F. In a shallow dish, mix the flour, Cajun seasoning, and salt. In another shallow dish, mix the egg and milk. Place the pecans on a dinner plate. Dip each piece of catfish in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and then in the pecans, pressing the pecans to adhere.
2. In a large (12-inch) nonstick ovenproof skillet (wrap the handle with aluminum foil to protect it in the oven, if necessary), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the underside is toasted, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the centers of the fillets look opaque when flaked with the tip of knife, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Transfer the fish fillets to dinner plates. Add the butter to the skillet and heat over high heat. Add thescallion, jalape�o, and garlic. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and drizzle equal amounts over the fillets. Serve immediately.
Choose a relatively salt-free Cajun seasoning (Paul Prudhomme is a good brand, but others are mostly salt with a few spices). To make your own seasoning, mix 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika, 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder, garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.Store leftover Cajun seasoning in a small jar in a dark, cool place, and use as a seasoning for grilled meats and poultry.Makes about 2 1/2 tablespoons.
Corn and Tomato Risotto
Makes 6 Servings
Risotto, with its smooth, creamy texture, has become one of the top comfort foods of the nineties. ImportedItalian rice, starchier than other varieties, is the only rice that makes a proper, creamy risotto. Don't believethose who say that you have to stand over the risotto and stir it constantly. If you have a good, heavy Dutchoven (such as Le Creuset), you can leave the simmering pot for a couple of minutes to set the table, rinse thelettuce, or do other supper chores. Here's a recipe that is best during summer's last hurrah.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
3 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1 large ripe beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped
8 cups chicken broth, approximately, preferably homemade, or use low-sodium canned broth
1 pound imported italian rice for risotto, such as arborio, vialone nano, or carnaroli
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as chardonnay
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the sauce to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to very low and keep at a mere simmer.
3. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the saucepan. Add the rice and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the rice turns evenly opaque, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine. Cook, stirring often, until the rice absorbs the wine, about 2 minutes. Ladle in about 1 cup of the hot broth. Stir often until the rice absorbs the broth, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue adding the broth, 1 cup at a time, until the rice is al dente, tender with a slight firmness in the center. The entire process will take about 25 minutes. During the last minute or two, stir in the corn and tomato mixture. When the rice is al dente, stir in 1 cup of broth to give the risotto a spoonable, creamy consistency. Be flexible with your timing and the amount of broth. There may be some broth left over, or if you run out of broth, just use hot water. The important thing is the creamy texture.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved corn and tomato mixture, the cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately in warmed soup bowls.
Risotto Patties: For every cup of leftover risotto, stir in 1 large egg yolk. Form into 2-inch patties and roll in fresh bread crumbs. Saut� in butter until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes.
Good broth will make or break risotto. It doesn't have to be homemade--although it would be a good opportunity to thaw that homemade chicken stock that most food writers want you to have in your freezer. If you use a canned broth, use the low-sodium variety, as it tastes better--and don't even think about using bouillon cubes!
Once you get the hang of making risotto (saut� vegetables and set aside, then make the risotto and stir in the vegetables at the end of the cooking time to reheat), you can let inspiration cut loose. Try it with mushrooms, zucchini, sweet red peppers, or sugar snap peas.The El Paso Chile Company's Sizzlin' Suppers. Copyright � by W Kerr. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.