Vern’s Cooking & Tidbits: Grilled and BBQed Crappies
Let’s take our cooking outside. We’ll grill and barbeque some fillets. Grilling is generally done quickly over moderate-to-high direct heat that produces little smoke while barbecuing is done slowly over low, indirect heat and the food is flavored by the smoking process. Decide which method you want to use first and let’s get cooking.
If you’re cooking for a social occasion 4 fillets may not be enough. I suggest allowing at least 2 to 4 fillets per person (depending on the size of your fillets and the hunger of your guests) and multiply the recipe accordingly.
Grilled Fish with Butter Sauce
4 fish fillets
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or more to taste)
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, lemon pepper and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of fillets. Prepare butter sauce by combining butter, garlic and parsley in a small saucepan. Once butter has melted remove from heat. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Place fish on lightly oiled grate, cook for about 5 minutes. Turn fish and coat with butter sauce. Cook for 5 more minutes. Once fish flakes easily, remove from heat, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
4 fish fillets
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup catsup
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine Worcestershire, paprika, salad oil, vinegar, catsup, sugar, salt and pepper. Place fish in sauce mixture for 30 minutes before grilling. Grill fillets 3 to 4 inches from hot coals on well greased grate until the fish begins to flake easily. Brush often with sauce while barbecuing.
Two More of Five Mother Sauces
Last month I wrote about the Five Mother Sauces and gave recipes for two, Béchamel and Espagnole, Basic Brown Sauce. This month I’ll provide two more “mothers”; keep in mind that you may play with each mother to add or subtract ingredients to suite your taste buds and to make a large variety (many hundreds or thousands) of “daughter” sauces. The five modern “mother sauces” (set is early 1900s) or grandes sauces are espagnole, velouté, hollandaise, sauce tomate and béchamel – all good with fish. The last mother will run next month.
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.
1 ounce salt pork chopped
1 white or yellow onion diced
1 garlic clove chopped
1/2 cup carrots diced
1/2 cup celery diced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
5 crushed black peppercorns (see note)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a stock pot over medium heat cook the salt pork until the fat is rendered. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pot and cook until the veggies start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes (plus juices), chicken stock and herbs. Bring the sauce to a boil and then transfer the pot to the oven. Cover and let it simmer in the oven for at least two hours. After the two hours, remove the pot from the oven and fish out the herbs (see note). Puree the sauce using an immersion blender or in batches with a stand blender. This recipe makes about 4 cups of sauce.
Note: Wrap herbs and spices in cheesecloth and tie the corners with a piece of kitchen twine. Leave the string long enough so that you can tie it to the handle of your pot to make it easier to retrieve it before pureeing the sauce. If you don’t have cheesecloth you can just toss the herbs in the sauce but be sure to fish out the bay leaf before pureeing. Also remove whole peppercorns and seasoning the sauce at the end with fresh ground pepper. You would not want to bite into a whole peppercorn. This sauce can be used as a base for many other recipes that call for tomato sauce. You can also make a big batch and freeze it for later use.
Lawry’s Lemon Pepper Crappie
4-6 crappie fillets
1 cup Lawry’s Lemon Pepper With Lemon Juice Marinade (or comparable concoction)
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s Lemon Pepper
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup of light cream or half and half
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds
In a re-sealable plastic bag or non-reactive container, place crappie fillets in lemon pepper with lemon juice marinade. Marinade in refrigerator for 30 minutes. In a shallow pan combine bread crumbs, seasoned salt and lemon pepper, mixing well. Remove crappie fillets from marinade and roll in bread crumb mixture until completely covered. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter; add crappie fillets and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crappie flakes easily. Remove to a serving platter and keep warm in 250 degree oven. Add cream and grated lemon peel to the skillet’s drippings and bring to a boil; stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Spoon over fillets and sprinkle with almonds.