Friday, May 16, 2008

Preparing Catfish Stew

One of the Southerner's most favorite passion is fishing. With all the beautiful lakes, rivers and ponds scattered around the south, fishing offers an enjoyable pastime events usually passed down through the generations. Nothing excites the young more than a cane pole, worms/crickets in a bucket, a corked fishing line, and a "nibble" of a fish while sitting with daddy, grand-daddy, or grandmother at the edge of a fish filled river or pond. Memories like this fill my mind and soul when I remember this activity with my father.

Catfish stew

Another fond memory I have of him was the way the cooked all the fish we caught and cleaned. The cleaning was not delightful but essential. He had his own way to deep fry the fish. The most amazing thing I remember is that he never failed to cook the best tasting fish on earth..Every time without fail! He would separate the various species of fish in separate bowls and cooked each one differently. The only (and I must admit) fish he prepared two different ways was the catfish. His best recipe was the catfish stew. He prepared this stew for lawyers, doctors, and several senators of our state. From festive occasions to the family suppers, he always prepared the stew this same way.
6 catfish boiled in water and boned 6 white potatoes peeled and diced
4 large onions chopped 1/2 lb fatback fried and cut up into 1 inch pieces
1 stick margarine 1 1/2 quarts sweet milk
1 8 oz. can cream salt/pepper
Cook catfish in boiling water. Add 3 to 4 tsps. of salt and sprinkle in pepper. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes or until white in color in water. De-bone catfish if fresh. If catfish fillets are used, boil for the same time. Cook potatoes and onions in the water you boiled and de-boned catfish in until potatoes and onions are done. Add fish, strips of fried fatback drippings and margarine. Simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and stir in milk and cream. Heat mixture until hot stirring so meat will not stick. Serve with oyster or saltine crackers. Some like ketchup added in their bowls of stew. Either way, it is great! Enjoy daddy's famous catfish stew.
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Dorne Sandifer author. Cook who tries to keep the old Southern traditional cooked meals alive and well. All recipes are from my family's hidden secret recipes. My father had 12 family members, lived through the depression and created all these recipes to feed the family. We have great family reunions with each family member cooking their favorite dish. We never serve any commercial dishes. From salads to pit cooked pigs, home grown watermelons to peanuts. Our family river house on the lower Edisto river is the meeting place. Children swim while the grownups prepare the food. Iced lemon aid and tea are the drinks. Home made hand churned ice cream, pies and cookies finish the meal.