For the crawfish etouffee: First, you make a roux. In a Dutch oven, add the butter over medium-high heat and melt. Add the flour and whisk until combined and there are no lumps in the flour. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flour mixture browns to the color of a shopping bag, 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to stir continuously and do not allow the mixture to burn. If you notice little black specks, discard the roux and start over.
Once the roux is sufficiently dark, add the garlic, celery, onion and bell pepper and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the seafood stock and bring to a simmer. Add the parsley, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves and some cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the crawfish tails and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
For the rice: Over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil with the salt. Add the rice and return to a boil with a lid. Reduce to a simmer, keep covered and simmer until the rice is fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Reserve for serving.
For the cornbread: Put a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In another mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, creamed corn and eggs and whisk until the eggs are broken apart. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until everything is incorporated.
Carefully remove the cast-iron skillet from the oven. Coat the inside with the canola oil, then pour the cornbread batter into the skillet. Place the skillet back in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the inside is cooked all the way through, about 20 minutes. Flip the cornbread upside-down onto a cutting board. Reserve for serving.
For the fried catfish: In a shallow pan or baking dish, combine the cornmeal, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir to evenly spread the spices throughout the cornmeal. Hit each side of each catfish fillet with a few drops of a Louisiana-style hot sauce and spread it around. Dredge the fillets in the cornmeal mixture, generously coating both sides with it.
In a deep fryer with oil set to 375 degrees F (or a cast iron skillet with oil heated to 375 degrees F), fry the catfish in batches until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on a pan lined with paper towels.
For the grilled asparagus: Prepare a grill or grill pan for medium heat.
Cut the white woody ends off of the asparagus and discard. Put the asparagus in a shallow dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss with some salt and pepper. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes, then flip the asparagus to grill the other side for another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and toss with the lemon juice.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Jay Ducote