Monday, November 11, 2013

The Killer Menu

Dear Lauren,

When Dad and I were dating, blackened redfish was regularly served and extremely popular in restaurants. We loved it; everyone loved it. We went to New Orleans during the "craze" and could only get a very early dinner reservation at K-Paul's because Chef Paul Prudhomme was so in-demand at the time. He was known for either inventing or popularizing blackened redfish (depending on whom you talked to) and everyone was talking about his recipe or copying it. We could not wait to go! We were far more excited about that reservation than any other I can think of.

Well, we went and we both ordered blackened redfish. No appetizer. It was 5 o'clock! We weren't even hungry! We just could not wait...

for that blackened redfish.

Then came the first bite.

It was...

way too salty!

Pure shock registered in both of our faces. I can still see Dad's face.

I took several more bites because nothing is ever too salty for me. Except that fish.

Dad went fishing with some of his friends recently. A place called Boca Grande, FL. He had a blast except for all of the thousands of sand flies that bit him because he refused to use insect repellent. But hey, that's another story. Another story that he'll never forget because he suffered with those bites for weeks and in fact is still suffering! Poor little lamb!

Because of that dreadful trip to K-Paul's years ago, Dad modified his own blackening spice recipe for the redfish he caught, brought home and cooked for us.

I asked him why the blackened redfish was so perfect.

He said:
1) The blackening spice is not too hot and not too salty.
2) I used my favorite cast iron skillet.
3) I cooked it outside using the propane burner to my turkey fryer, so there was no mess in the house.
4) I cooked it with two of my friends who were on the fishing trip with me.
5) The look on your face was priceless when you ate it, Sandra, and OMG I love you so much.

Ok, I added #5 but I could see it all over his face and I love that look!

Before I tell you his recipe, you have to understand, he loves this recipe. Loves it so much that within a week or so of coming home from fishing, he blackened:
1) redfish (awesome)
2) catfish (only ok)
3) mahi mahi (great - not as good as the redfish but excellent for frozen fish from Costco)
4) chicken breast (really good)

Blackening Spice Blend Recipe
adapted from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook

This recipe makes one 1/2 cup spice jar, perfect for giving as a gift or keeping with your spices for future use. Just mix the following together.

2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

How to Cook Blackened Fish
by Willie/Dad

You can use a cast iron skillet on the stovetop in your house but be warned, you will make a big mess. Here is the preferred method.

You can purchase one of these propane cookers (like the one above) in a box with a turkey fryer. You only need the propane cooker and your cast iron skillet. Heat the skillet until it is very hot (but not white hot). Then dip your fish in melted butter and sprinkle your fish on both sides with the blackening spice until completely covered. Dad says sprinkling is too little and dredging is too much. Next, put the fish in the pan and pour a tablespoon of butter over the top of it. When you flip the fish, pour another tablespoon over the top of it. That's that. It cooks quickly, so don't go anywhere.

One more thing...

Dad's Killer Menu (and Mike and I helped!):

Blackened Redfish (Killer.)
Blackened Onions (Served on top of the redfish. Mike's idea and it was killer! Do this!)
Boudin from Teet's Food Store (Killer.)
Red Beans & Rice (Killer.)
Granny Kitty's Homemade Slaw (Our friend Mike made it. Killer.)
Broccoli Slaw (From Smitten Kitchen - Killer.)
Apple Slab Pie (Also from Smitten Kitchen - Killer.)

If you've read this far, you deserve a Gold Star. It's a loooong post!

I just want to tell you that every single thing made on the menu was outstanding! And I've linked up all of the recipes except Mike's slaw. If you want that recipe, you have to ask Mike. There's no way I'm giving away his grandmother's recipe. Oh, and I didn't post the red beans and rice recipe. We'll save that for another day.


P.S. When Dad says he cooked it outside and there was no mess, please keep in mind he put that propane cooker on top of my glass outdoor coffee table. It made a mess. It just didn't make a mess inside of the house.

P.P.S. My friend Seleesha pointed out that my slab pie's crust is very flaky. She asked me how I did that. My answer - LUCK. I did vary a bit from the recipe on Smitten Kitchen so here's my variation:
1) Freeze the butter and then put the frozen butter through your food processor's grating blade. It'll be a mess and you might end up with a tad less butter than the recipe calls for but hey, it all worked out just fine.
2) Omit the nutmeg and allspice.
3) I used the egg, not the heavy cream to finish.
4) I used apple juice for the glaze and, although I didn't, I could easily have doubled the glaze recipe and used every last drop.
5) Seleesha, I love you! I know you are making this recipe with cherries and please let me know how it turns out because my dad loves cherry pie and I want to make it for him!

P.P.S.S. No, we didn't eat our fish at K-Paul's that night. We paid the check and left and went on our merry way. So much to do in NOLA! And we did it all!

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