While some of us are busy in New Orleans collecting beads and drinking Hurricanes on Bourbon Street, others see Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, as a delicious excuse to eat all the rich and fatty foods they can.
New Orleans is synonymous with dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, dirty rice, crawfish boils and beignets. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Creole and Cajun-style cooking, which has been influenced by a unique blend of French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, African and Southern cooking styles, among others. As much as New Orleans is known for its raucous celebration of Mardi Gras, it is equally famous for a cuisine that has no shortage of spice and flavor.
Here, a pecan-crusted catfish recipe borrows from the South, except that it is baked and not fried. (Although we are celebrating Fat Tuesday, you’ll be glad for this waistline saving aspect come Wednesday.) Cajun seasoning lends a little spice, as does the quintessential hot pepper sauce, Tabasco, which actually originated in Louisiana.
Pecan-crusted catfish recipe with Cajun-spiced pecan compound butter
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 pound catfish fillets, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- Chop pecans finely in a food processor. Remove 1/4 cup for use in compound butter. Add panko breadcrumbs to remaining pecans in food processor and pulse until combined. Reserve.
- In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter until soft and creamy. Add 1/4 cup pecans, honey and Cajun seasoning to butter and mix until completely incorporated into butter.
- Place butter on a sheet of parchment paper and roll up into a tight log. Refrigerate until hard, about two hours.
- When ready to cook catfish, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place pecan mixture in a pie plate. Combine buttermilk and hot pepper sauce in another pie plate.
- Season catfish with salt and pepper. Dip catfish pieces in buttermilk, and then dredge in pecans, pressing to adhere. Place breaded catfish on baking sheet.
- Bake catfish for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness. When done, fish will flake apart easily.
- To serve, slice compound butter and place a pat on top of each piece of catfish.
- Note: Leftover compound butter can keep in refrigerator for several days or frozen for about a month.