The fish should be the angry ones, shouldn't they? Guess they're not really smiling either...
Anyway, fried catfish is something Jeremy and I make often. Especially during the summer. Especially during THIS summer. Jeremy has totally become the king of catfish. So when he caught a mess of catfish at the lake last weekend I thought it'd be a good time to try Chef Keller's Crispy Fried Fish. And what goes better with fish than chipes? Fish and chips, right? So since I'd been so disappointed with the fried fingerling potatoes I tried again using sweet potatoes. Adn finally the ultimate summer dessert - blueberry cobbler.
I want to start by confessing that after trying several different fish fry recipes, we found one last year that we absolutely love - Zatarain's New Orleans, Breading Fish Fry Seasoned, 10-Ounce-TWO BAGS. The problem is that we discovered it in Murray, Kentucky and we can't find it around here! So I ordered a case online and we use it on all of our fish. We've tried Paula Dean's recipe, Emeril's recipe and several other box reciped - and nothing is as good at Zatarain's New Orleans. So I'll be honest and say that I made about half of the fish our usual way and the other half using the Ad Hoc recipe. Chef Keller's recipe is a wet batter coating, rather than a seasoned dry coating like we usually use. It was developed when he was working on waffle batters of all things!
The recipe starts with putting milk and butter in a pan to warm together, and meanwhile proofing the yeast. Proofing the yeast means to activate the yeast by sprinking it over warm water:
So I proofed the yeast, let it dissolve for 10 minutes and then stirred it together to dissolve and added the flour, sugar and salt to it. Oh yeah - and the milk and butter. I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for an hour and a half.
I don't think you can really see it very well in the picture - but the butter mixture was bubbling (the yeast, ya know). So after an hour and a half, I whisked in a little baking soda and two eggs. The fish itself needed to be cut down to diamond shapes approximately 2 inches by 2 inches.
I used the big fryer this time so I didn't have to guess or use the stupid candy thermometer to figure out if we were at the right temp. So once the oil was at 350 degrees, I dredged the fish in flour, dipped it in the batter and dropped it into the hot oil.
In the upper left corner you can see the fish we did our usual way with the Zatarain's. I'll be honest and say I kind of had my doubts about the heavy battered fish. The Taylor family joined us for dinner so I subjected them to my little fish experiment. I think the opinions were pretty well divided. The Ad Hoc Crispy Fried Fish was good, the batter was kind of on the sweet side and there was a lot of it! It's such a thick batter that there's no way to keep it from making a very thick coating of fried batter on the fish. That being said, that's exactly what made some people like it so much. Personally, I still prefer the crispy dry breading method. And of course Jeremy liked both versions. Alot.
Now since we had the big fryer out and I knew the oil temperature would be perfect I grabbed my mandolin and sliced up a nice big sweet potato.
I popped them all into the fryer for a couple of minutes while we were waiting for the fish batter to be ready to go, took them out and sprinkled with kosher salt while they were still nice and hot.
Since I'd been disappointed the first time I tried to make the chips, I only made one of the four sweet potatoes I got at the grocery store... shoulda made 'em all. THIS WAS AWESOME. They were very thin and crispy with that bit of natural sweetness you expect from a sweet potato. Salty and sweet are one of my favorite combinations so these were right up my alley. I'm going to be making these every time we have the fryer out. Really easy, really delicious and a big hit.
But speaking of big hits...this weekend brought me my favotite recipe from Ad Hoc so far. The Blueberry Cobbler. Now I've been making cobblers forever. Dude - my family is Southern. We know from cobbler. I've made cobblers with biscuit drop tops, I've made cobblers with granola crumble topping, I've made individual cobblers, I've done it all. And this was my favorite cobbler of all time.
Yes, Mary Beth, that is a little container of cinnamon sugar with a "CINN SUGAR" label on it. This is where Mary Beth will make fun of me and my love of a good label maker. Labels make me happy! Sue me. I guess this is karma for making fun of Jeremy's "angry tough guy face" in pictures.
I like blueberries, but Jeremy loves blueberries. It's funny, his mom doesn't care for them so he never had blueberries when he was growing up. When he had his first taste of blueberries and fell in love with them, he actually scolded his mother for not feeding him blueberries as a kid! :) Anyway, here's some "food porn" for Jeremy:
To make the topping, I creamed the butter and sugar together, then added the rest of the dry ingredients and buttermilk in alternating batches.
The filling was even easier. I tossed the blueberries with sugar, flour and lemon zest. (More food porn for Jeremy):
After spreading the filling evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 11 baker, I dropped dollops of the batter on top - then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
I wish there was some way for you all to taste this cobbler. I can't express how much I love it. It tastes like summer at my grandparent's farm in Kentucky when I was a little girl. Fresh fruit, cobbler and a big glass of cold milk. I'm 5 again and can't get enough!
Sam and Jeremy went fishing tonight and when they got back, Sam had a piece of cobbler. I think this says it all: