Crabmeat-Cornbread Stuffed Baked Catfish with Creamy White Gravy

4 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch chopped fresh thyme
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, recipe follows
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 6 ounces crabmeat, picked over to remove shells and cartilage
  • 4 (8-ounce) catfish fillets
  • Essence, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into slivers
  • Chopped parsley, garnish
  • Creamy Pan Gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • Skillet Cornbread:
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 4 cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Creamy Pan Gravy:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a large baking dish and set aside.

  • In a large skillet or saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Let cool slightly.

  • Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl. Add the cooled vegetable mixture and 1/2 cup of the stock or water. Mix with your hands until the bread is moist. Fold in the crabmeat and add more stock or water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to be moist but not overly wet (will depend upon the freshness of the cornbread). Divide into 4 portions. (Will make about 3 cups.)

  • Cut the catfish fillets in half crosswise and lay the 4 thicker portions in the buttered pan. Separate the smaller portions lengthwise into 2 strips each.

  • Place a scoop of the crabmeat stuffing in the center of each of the 4 catfish fillets in the pan, and season lightly with Essence. Arrange 2 catfish strips along the outer edges of the stuffing to surround, pressing down. Lightly season the top catfish strips with Essence and dot with butter. Bake until the fish is just cooked through and tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

  • While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, to make a light roux, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, cream, and hot sauce, bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  • To serve, place a portion of the stuffed catfish on each of 4 large plates and top with the sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Skillet Cornbread:
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

  • Brown chopped bacon in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add the garlic and jalapeno and saute until softened.

  • In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper and mix well. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Quickly pour the cornmeal batter into the skillet.

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until firm and golden brown on top. Let sit for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve hot with butter on the side.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes

  • Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

  • Yield: 2/3 cup

  • Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch

  • Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

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