Mama and Daddy go fishing. A lot. Their freezer is always stocked with local freshwater goodness like bream, crappy, rock fish (striped bass) and catfish. Yay for me because Husband doesn't much care for any of it (eating it or fishing for it) so I can always get my fix at their house.
Daddy called me the other day asking if I had a recipe for catfish stew. I’d never made it before but had saved this recipe once upon a time thinking it looked like a solid place to start so I sent it to him.
They whipped up a pot of it and brought it over and, oh my sweet Lord, was it ever good! Mama also brought over a pan of her Skillet Cornbread and the two went so good together! I was one happy gal!
recipe adapted from Mahalia's Catfish Stew
5 strips thick-cut bacon or fatback, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups fish stock* or water
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound catfish filets, cut into 1-inch pieces
Brown bacon or fatback in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat until almost crisp. Add onions and celery and sauté until onions are tender (3-5 minutes).
Add tomatoes, fish stock, ketchup, worcestershire, seasonings and potatoes and stir well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 40 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
Add catfish, reduce heat to low, cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, cover and allow stew to rest for 20 minutes before serving.
*Simmer catfish bones, uncovered, in 3 cups water until liquid is reduced by half. If you’re not fileting your own catfish, your fish monger will be DELIGHTED to give you a sack of bones or shrimp shells that you can use instead (tell him you need the bones or shells from about one pound of fish or shrimp – doesn't matter what kind). You might be lucky enough to find canned fish or seafood stock in your grocery store. If you do, you won’t need a full teaspoon of salt for this recipe. Just salt to taste.