RED CATFISH STEW
Once labeled as a worthless bottom feeder scarcely fit for human consumption, and dismissed entirely when it came to sport fishing, old Mr. Whiskers has enjoyed a striking change in reputation in recent decades. There are now catfish tournaments across the country, and a good friend of mine who is a highly successful writer proudly carries the moniker “Catfish” (Keith Sutton). The culinary appeal of the fish has expanded from backwoods fish camps to the tables of fine restaurants.
Here’s a hearty recipe perfect for feeding a group in camp or a larger family gathering:
• 6 to 7 pounds of catfish fillets
• 5 pound potatoes
• 3 pounds onions, diced
• 1 to 1 ½ pounds hog jowl or side meat, diced
• 1 (27-ounce) can diced tomatoes
• 3 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
• 1 (46-ounce) can tomato juice
• ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
• Salt, black pepper, and red pepper to taste
• Hot pepper sauce to taste
Combine the catfish with enough water to cover the fillets in a soup pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the fish flakes easily. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Pick through the fish to remove any bones. Refrigerate the fish.
Scrub the potatoes (leave peel on if desired) and cut into half-inch cubes. Add to the pot of fish stock.
Combine the onion with enough water to cover in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until tender and then add to the soup pot.
Fry the pork until crisp. Drain and add the meat to the soup pot.
Add the fish to the pot along with the diced tomatoes. Cut the stewed tomatoes into small pieces and add to the soup pot.
Add tomato juice as needed while simmering ingredients in the soup pot. Be sure it does not cook down too much. When potatoes and onions are tender, add the Worcestershire sauce. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Simmer slowly for two to three hours, stirring occasionally.
Fine accompaniments are a big pone of corn bread or chunks of crusty bread along with a raisin and carrot salad.
WILD TURKEY DIRTY RICE
A lordly longbeard is a trophy worthy of any sportsman’s appreciation, and that delight readily extends from the field to the table. Sadly, far too many successful turkey hunters breast out their birds and discard perfectly fine meat from the legs, thighs, wings, neck, and medallions at the base of the back.
While these portions are admittedly dark meat and far tougher than the breast, they are fine for paté, preparing stock, use in soups, and the like. They are also ideal for preparing delicious dirty rice.
• 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
• 2 ½ cups turkey stock or broth (you can substitute chicken broth if you must), divided
• ½ stick butter
• 8-12 ounces turkey dark meat, thoroughly chopped
• 1 cup finely chopped onion (optional)
• ½ cup finely chopped celery
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (a bit more if you like your dirty rice really hot)
• Chopped green onions
Cook the rice in two cups of stock for about twenty minutes. Heat the butter in a large skillet and brown the turkey in it. Add the onion, celery, garlic, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Sauté for five minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Add the remaining stock and the cooked rice.
Cover and simmer over low heat until the liquid is absorbed. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with hot sauce. Makes four servings but recipe can be doubled.
A nice offering, easily prepared in advance and reheated if so desired, for a mid-day break in a hunt camp.
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