catfish steaks and heads

Uncle Cheeky made this stew.  When I was a little girl this dish was made catfish scrapes primarily heads and steaks.  There is a lot of meat, not just meat BUT delicious meat around the jaws of the catfish.

I am gonna share a dear and funny story with y’all.   I have a dear friend; her name is DeDe she ate this dish with me when we were kids. A couple of years ago she asked me to make it, BUT when she realized it was made with catfish heads she said that all right I don’t want any!  I laughed uncontrollably; I made it for her out of catfish steaks no heads.

Courtbouillon (pronounced coo-bee-yawn) is a spicy thick catfish stew served with white steamed rice and French bread for sopping. Uncle Cheeky would say darlin the secret to making this gravy is to poach the fish.

4 cups of fish stock, 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup butter flavored shortening, 6 slices bacon, 2 medium onion, julienned,  1 cup diced celery, julienned, 1 small green bell pepper, julienned, 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 ( 14 1/2 ounce can) stewing tomatoes,1 (3 oz.) can tomato paste,  1 tablespoon cajun seasoning, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 3 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons dried thyme, 1 tablespoon Worchestire sauce, 1 cup frozen cut okra, 1/2 cup frozen lima beans, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 3 catfish heads ( pop out the eyes before you put the heads in the pot), 2 lbs. catfish steaks, hot sauce, 1 bunch green onions, cooked rice, and lemon wedges.

Let’s make the stock:  1 cup dried shrimp, 1 white onion, 2 celery stalks, 3 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup white dry wine, 2 pounds fish bones, 2 carrots, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, 1/4 bell pepper, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes. Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 45 minutes.  Remove from heat allow to steep for 30 minutes.   Strain and set aside until ready to use.

Cut up the bacon slices, dump the bacon into a large heavy pot, and fry until crispy.  Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery, sauté until the onions are clear. Lower the heat and add the garlic, thyme, seasoning salt, pepper, stewing tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons cayenne, Worchestire sauce, continue to cook for about 15 minutes.  In a cup add the flour and 1/3 cup of stock, whisk until there are no lumps.  Add the flour mixture, lima beans, bay leaves, and wine to the pot, stir.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir, and taste add salt, pepper, and hot sauce if needed.  Add the okra the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Pour the stock into a pot, submerge the catfish, make sure the fish is completely covered.  Continue to cook uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. Remove tomato-based mixture from the heat, spoon the poached fish into the pot and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar remove from the heat and rest for 10 minutes.  Serve with steamed white rice, garnish with chopped green onions, lemon wedges and hot French bread for sopping.

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