6 fresh redfish fillets still in their scales, scored diagonally
2 lbs. hickory smoked bacon, rendered
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. peeled fresh shrimp, minced
6 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, juiced
1 Tbsp. Creole mustard
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 oz. Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
3/4 cups chopped seasoning mix
1/2 cup concentrated chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 lemons, zested
1/4 cup minced parsley
3 cups cold, cooked grits, cut into squares
1/2 stick butter
First, with an electric knife, remove both fillets from the redfish, leaving the scales on the fillets (I find that a 16-inch redfish lends itself to this recipe better than a larger one). Then, under cold running water, gently wash the fillets thoroughly and pat them dry with paper towels. I suggest you check to take time to remove all traces of blood from along the backbone because it turns the cooked fish slightly bitter. Now place the fillets into a large baking pan and set them aside for a while.
While the fish is being prepared, take a heavy-bottomed skillet, place it over medium-low heat, and render down the bacon until the strips become super-crunchy and all the fat has melted. Then while the drippings are still hot, whisk in the 3 tablespoons of butter so that they are thoroughly combined.
It’s at this point that the redfish preparation really begins: First, in a large bowl, with a pastry brush, liberally coat each fillet with some of the bacon dripping-butter mixture. Then immediately, evenly sprinkle each fillet with the seafood seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne. When they’ve all been done, place them scales-side down on a shallot sheet pan and slide the pan into a 550-degree oven under the broiler element.
Meanwhile, remove the cooked bacon and the drippings and set them aside. Then, in the very same skillet, add to it the mayonnaise, olive oil, shrimp, diced tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, Creole mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cream cheese, and prepared seasoning vegetables, chicken broth, and white wine. Then, with the fire increased to high, cook all of those ingredients into a aromatic, intensely flavored topping sauce, where everything is uniformly, and smoothly blended.
At this stage, you should direct your attention to the broiler! Open the oven and slide out the pan holding the fillets—they should have started to cook (and even slightly browned around the edges), but they should only be about “half-cooked.” Now remove the fish from the oven and, with a ladle, pour a generous portion of the sauce evenly over each fillet, taking care that when they’ve all been done the sauce won’t boil over the lip of the pan as the fillets finish cooking (remember, the volume of the sauce will increase as the natural juices render out of the fish!)
Now, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and slide the pan back onto the center rack. It should take approximately 20 more minutes for the fillets to fully cook (if they were broiled properly). Of course, the best way to test the doneness is to push the tines of a fork into the upper, thick end of the fillet and twist it. If the meat flakes easily, the fish is done and the pan should be removed from the oven and set on the countertop to “rest.” Note that this entire procedure was done with the pan un-covered.
All that’s left to do now is to transfer the cooking juices to a 3-quart saucepan, bring the mixture up to a moderate boil, and quickly whisk in the lemon zest. Then taste the finished sauce for final seasoning adjustment, transfer it to a gravy boat, and place it on the dinner table, along with the pan of redfish.
Then when your guests are ready to eat, take a 12-inch, non-stick grill pan, place it over high heat, melt about a tablespoon of butter in it, swoosh it around, and begin frying the squares of grits until nice and toasty (turning them once). They should be served right alongside a redfish fillet, topped with a ladleful of the sauce, garnished with a pinch of minced parsley, and eaten right away while piping hot!
- For an extra lemony taste, you can place several thin slices of lemon on top of the fish as garnish during the last 10 minutes of the baking process. It also adds flair to sprinkle on some additional minced parsley when serving the redfish.
- Any good quality white wine can be used in this recipe. Just don’t use “cooking wine!” It’s nothing but glorified vinegar loaded with salt!
- To add immeasurable richness to the sauce, prior to service “cream” into the sauce about a half stick of butter until smooth and silky.