Courtbouillon loaded with seafood

6-8 pond-raised catfish fillets, 4-6 oz. each
4 teaspoons Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
1 cup peanut oil
1 pound crab claw meat
1 pound crawfish tails
3 pounds peeled and butterflied shrimp
1 pound crab fingers
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 medium-large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced
3 medium Portabella mushrooms, diced
3 carrots, small-chunked
1/2 cup green onion tops, thinly sliced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
3 cans Rotel tomatoes with chilies
Juice of one lemon + zest
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon sweet basil
6-8 cups cooked long grain rice

Start off by cutting each fillet into three or four pieces, depending upon how big they are.

Then generously sprinkle each piece with two teaspoons of the seafood seasoning, drop them into the cup of hot peanut oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet, and fry them until they become crispy and golden brown all over.

When they're done, drain all the pieces on several thicknesses of paper towels.

But before you begin preparing the 'courtbouillion,' sprinkle the remaining two teaspoons of seasoning on the peeled shrimp and toss them around thoroughly. Set the shrimp aside for a while.

Next, as we say in Louisiana, 'make a roux' by slowly cooking together about a third cup of the peanut oil you used to fry the catfish and an equivalent amount of all-purpose flour.

Keep in mind that you don't want a heavy, dark, Cajun roux, just one that barely turns a beige color (about 5 minutes is all it should take).

Then, in a large shallow-sided brazier, reheat the remaining oil and saute the onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, and parsley over medium heat. This should take about 6-8 minutes.

Now stir into the vegetable mixture the Rotel tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, white wine, chicken stock, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and basil and blend everything together well.

Then over a low flame, cover the pan and simmer the ingredients for about 15 minutes or until they create a rich flavorful stock that's the courtbouillion!

After the allotted time, begin adding the remaining seafood (except the pre-cooked catfish and the crab fingers).

Note: From this point on, use a large rubber spatula instead of a chef's spoon to combine the ingredients by 'folding' (the spatula is less likely to break up the seafood).

Next, a small amount at a time, fold in and dissolve just enough of the roux to thicken the courtbouillion to the consistency of a very light pancake batter (depending upon your tastes, it may take most of the roux you made).

Finally, place all of the fried fish pieces into the pan, gently nestling each piece into the sauce so that no piece layers on top of any other piece.

At this point, lower the heat once again, re-cover the pan, and heat the courtbouillion for about 20 minutes to piping hot; but, again, do not stir because now this would break up the fish.

If you must mix the ingredients to blend them further, gently agitate the pan with the lid in place from side to side. But at all costs, try your best not to break up the fish.

When you're ready to eat, spoon the Chubby Checker Courtbouillion gently over a plate of hot buttered rice, garnish with a handful of crab fingers, and serve with a hot crispy French bread roll and a chilled tossed green salad.

With a couple of bowls of this, you could actually win a 'Twist' contest!

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Chef's Notes:

Your finished courtbouillion can be made a day in advance and stashed in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it to your family and friends. Simply place it in a warming oven to reheat, but, again, do not stir and break up the fish pieces.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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