Food & Drink

Smoked Catfish Brandade

Makes 4 Servings

A riff on classic Mediterranean brandade, turned Southern with the addition of hickory smoked catfish


Chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman met as kids, grew up in extended Italian-American families in Memphis, and have since honed their dauntless style of Italian and Southern cuisine at two Memphis restaurants, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog and Hominy.

Their cooking fuses Southern ingredients with Italian technique, and in 2013 earned them a spot in the semi-finals of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: South award. True to form, their recent cookbook: Collards & Carbonara: Southern Cooking, Italian Roots, drives that point home with dishes like Black-Eyed Pea Tortellini, Ham Hock Brodo and Collards, and Strawberry Honeysuckle Panna Cotta, plus this riff on classic Mediterranean brandade (a succulent whip of salt cod, potatoes, olive oil, garlic, and cream), turned Southern with the addition of hickory smoked catfish.


Ingredients

  • Smoked Catfish Brandade, Radishes & Celery

    • 2 handfuls of hickory chips

    • 1 lb. catfish fillets

    • 2 russet potatoes, about 1 lb. total

    • 1/4 cup whole milk

    • 1/4 cup heavy cream

    • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white part only

    • 1 tsp. Lardo Rub (see below)

    • Large pinch of red pepper flakes

    • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

    • 1 large egg yolk

    • 1/4 cup olive oil

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

    • 1 cup dried bread crumbs

    • 2 radishes 1 stalk celery

    • 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

    • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Lardo Rub

    • 5 star anise

    • 1 1/2 tbsp. each coriander seeds and peppercorns

    • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

    • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

    • 12 dried bay leaves

    • 1 cup kosher salt

    • 1/2 cup sugar

    • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary

    • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

    • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon


Preparation

  1. An hour before you want to start smoking, soak the hickory chips in water to cover. Prepare a low fire for indirect-heat cooking in a charcoal grill; you’re aiming for around 150°–160ºF (65º–71°C).

  2. Sprinkle the soaked chips directly on the coals. Put the fish fillets on the grill rack to the side of the coals and close the cover. Smoke the catfish until it is well flavored with smoke and slightly flaky but not cooked all the way through, 45–60 minutes.

  3. While the fish smokes, bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Since a watched pot never boils, take that time to peel and roughly chop the potatoes. When the water reaches a rolling boil, drop in the potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

     

  5. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan. Add the milk and cream and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes roughly in the pot; you’re looking for plenty of little chunks for texture. Flake the smoked catfish into pieces, being careful to remove any errant bones, and add it to the pan with the potatoes. Add the leeks, lardo rub, pepper flakes, lemon zest, egg yolk, and olive oil and mix well, being careful not to overwork the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Transfer the potato-fish mixture to shallow individual baking dishes or 1 large shallow baking dish or pan. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and bake until the top is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, using a mandoline, thinly slice the radishes and celery, and pull the leaves from the parsley stems. In a bowl, combine the radishes, celery, parsley leaves, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and toss well.

  8. Remove the potato-fish mixture from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes to cool slightly. Top with the radish-celery salad and serve right away with the crostini.

  9. For the Lardo Rub:

    In a spice grinder, combine the star anise, coriander, peppercorns, dried thyme, pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Pulse the grinder until a coarse powder forms. (You can do this in batches, if necessary). Pour the powder into a bowl, add the salt, sugar, rosemary, fresh thyme, and lemon zest, and mix well. Use right away, or store in an airtight container in a cool cupboard for up to 1 month. (Makes about 2 ½ cups)

Recipes from Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman’s cookbook Collards & Carbonara: Southern Cooking, Italian Roots.


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