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MasterClass – Mashama Bailey Teaches Southern Cooking

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  1. Make the grits. In a stockpot, bring the water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Once boiling, add the heavy cream. When the liquid begins to boil again, stir in the grits. Bring the grits to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover and cook for 45 minutes.
  2. Begin the Creole sauce. Place a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Make a roux by melting the butter, adding the flour, and stirring to combine. Continue to stir the roux as the flour toasts and becomes a light brown color, about 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and stir to incorporate. Add the garlic, stir again, and allow the mixture to cook down, about 4–5 minutes.
  4. Check back in with your grits every few minutes and give them a good stir.
  5. Return to the roux. Add a pinch of salt, and keep stirring gently, ensuring that the roux evenly coats the vegetables. Once the vegetables have begun to soften and break down (after about 5–7 minutes), add the blackening spice, white pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and shrimp powder. Stir to incorporate. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan.
  6. Add the shrimp stock, pouring a little in at first. Stir the mixture, then add the rest. (You might want to switch from a spoon to a whisk at this point.) Reduce the heat and cook the sauce down for 20 minutes. Next, fold the crab meat into the sauce. Set it aside.
  7. Make the fish. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the peanut oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the fillets into thin slices and set them aside. Place three shallow baking dishes or other containers on a work surface. Add the corn flour to the first container, the buttermilk to the second container, and the cornmeal to the third container. Season each container with a pinch of salt. Add a pinch of cayenne to the buttermilk container. Stir or whisk each ingredient to blend the seasonings.
  8. Season each slice of fish on both sides with salt. Using tongs or your fingers, dredge a slice in the corn flour, then the buttermilk (be sure to shake off any excess liquid), and finally the cornmeal. Set the slice of fish aside on a sheet tray. Repeat the dredging process for all slices of fish.
  9. Check the temperature of your oil by dusting a pinch of cornmeal into the skillet. If the oil bubbles, it’s ready. Gently lay one dredged piece of fish in the oil, and cook for 1 minute or so, allowing the oil to reheat before adding the other fillets. Add as many fillets as will fit in the pan without crowding, frying each one for about 3 minutes per side or until the fillets turn golden brown.
  10. When each piece of fish is evenly browned on both sides, remove them from the pan. Lay the fillets on a rack or paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Season again with salt.
  11. Check on the grits. Give them a taste. When there is no longer a hard bite to them, add the butter, stir, and add the salt to taste. Stir once more and remove from the heat. You want them to have some texture but also taste smooth and creamy.
  12. Plate the dish. Add a serving of the grits to a bowl. Ladle the Creole sauce around the edge of the bowl, then place two slices of fish in the center. Serve immediately.

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