Panéed Catfish with Crayfish Stuffing in an Herb Butter Sauce
Since most of the components of this dish can be prepared ahead of time, it makes a terrific entree for guests. Serve it with chunky garlic, fresh boiled potatoes flavored with parsley, and simply prepared fresh asparagus or broccoli.
- Seasoning Mix
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- White Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Cayenne Pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
- Onion Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Thyme Leaves - 1/4 teaspoon, dried
- Oregano Leaves - 1/8 teaspoon, dried
- Crayfish Stuffing
- Margarine - 1/2 cup (1 stick)
- Onions - 1 cup, finely chopped
- Celery - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Green Bell Pepper - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Green Onions - 1/2 cup, chopped
- Clove Garlic - 1 teaspoon, minced
- Crayfish Tails - 1 pound, peeled, with fat, coarsely chopped
- Dry Breadcrumbs - 1 cup, very fine
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup (1/2 stick)
- Eggs - 2, beaten
- Parmesan Cheese - 3 tablespoons, finely ground
- Herb Butter Sauce
- Clarified Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Shallots - 2, minced
- Garlic Cloves - 2, minced
- Fresh Thyme - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Fresh Oregano - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Dry white wine - 1/4 cup
- Fish stock or bottled clam juice - 1-1/4 cups
- Lemon Juice - 1/2 tablespoon
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 2 cups (4 sticks), cut into small pieces
- Seasoned Flour
- All-Purpose Flour - 3 cups
- White Pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Onion Powder - 3 teaspoons
- Cayenne Pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Garlic powder - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Thyme Leaves - 1-1/2 teaspoons, dried
- Oregano Leaves - 3/4 teaspoon, dried
- Milk Wash for Fillets
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- White Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Milk - 1-1/2 cups
- Catfish fillets - twelve, 2- to 4- ounce (alt. tilapia, rainbow trout, salmon)
- Clarified Butter - for pan-frying
To make the seasoning mix: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and set aside.
To make the stuffing: Melt the margarine in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper and saute 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Add the seasoning mix, green onions, and garlic and cook about 3 minutes, stirring to combine. Add the crayfish and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and stir well. Continue to cook without stirring until the mixture sticks, about 1 minute. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan well to prevent burning. Add the butter and continue cooking until the butter melts, constantly stirring and scraping the pan bottom. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and remove the pan from the heat. Set aside and let cool slightly.
In a small bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the Parmesan cheese. Add to the stuffing mixture in the skillet. Mix well to combine and transfer to a shallow pan. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the herb butter sauce: In a small skillet, heat the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shallots are softened. Add the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to a glaze. Lower the heat to very low and add the heavy cream. Blend in the lemon juice. Whisk in the butter, piece by piece, making sure each piece is completely incorporated before the next piece is added. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. If necessary, remove the sauce from the heat while adding the butter. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve into a warmed insulated container or a mixing bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.
To cook the fish: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put all the seasoned flour ingredients in a large bowl and stir to blend. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper, and milk. Sprinkle the fish fillets with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat enough clarified butter over medium heat to saute the fillets. Dip the fillets first in the milk wash, then dredge in the seasoned flour mixture, coating evenly and shaking off any excess. Saute the fillets in the hot butter until light golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the fillets from the pan and place half on a work surface and half on a baking sheet. Spoon about 3 ounces of the stuffing mixture onto the fillets in the baking pan. Lay the remaining fillets over the stuffing. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the stuffing is heated through.
To serve: Using a large spatula, transfer the stuffed catfish fillets to serving plates. Spoon the butter sauce around the fillets.