Welcome to Direct Your Dining! This cooking series will introduce you to energy efficient recipes full of tips to keep your meals delicious without using every appliance in the kitchen. Preparing recipes with energy efficiency in mind at least once a week will make cooking a little easier, and may even help reduce your monthly electricity bill. Check in every week for a new recipe full of flavor and creativity that will surely impress your friends and family.
Mardi Gras season is upon us! As in, Fat Tuesday is next week – February 9th! This sounds like the perfect reason to prepare a delicious Cajun comfort food dish that is low on energy use and huge on flavor.
This week’s delicious recipe is for cheesy andouille sausage grits topped with blackened catfish. I have cut the energy use down in this dish significantly from my traditional methods by using instant grits in the microwave instead of regular grits made on the stove. I also use the same skillet to prepare both the sausage and blackened catfish.
My entire family was born and raised in Louisiana until my parents moved to Texas. I have a love for Cajun and Creole cooking running in my blood. Andouille sausage is a classic Creole ingredient I use in everything from gumbo and grits to red beans and rice. It has an amazing flavor that pairs perfectly with sharp cheddar, gouda, red bell peppers, and green onions you’ll find in these grits.
Seriously, creating a bowl of comforting cheesy sausage grits in less than 15 minutes is so easy it could become a staple dish for your home. We always pair some kind of seafood with our loaded grits. While snapper and shrimp are tasty, my favorite thing is a piece of blackened catfish on top. The texture and flavor just works perfectly.
The key to making my blackened catfish extra flavorful without using a lot of extra effort or energy is cooking it in the same cast iron skillet I use to sauté my sausage. This means only one skillet to clean and no extra time heating up a new pan.
Blackened seasoning is easily found on the seasoning and spice aisle in the supermarket. Most are a combination of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and dried herbs (sometimes thyme, oregano, and sometimes even basil).
Check the ingredients label of the seasoning you purchase to see if salt is listed. If so, skip adding any extra sea salt to the catfish because you do not want it to be overly salty. There will be some salt in the skillet left from the andouille sausage and from the added butter.
Serve this meal topped with fresh watercress greens and super thin slices of red bell pepper, and it will plate up like a fancy restaurant dish!
Cheesy Andouille Grits with Blackened Catfish
Cheesy Andouille Grits Ingredients (4 servings):
- 1 c. Andouille sausage, cut into small pieces
- 1/3 c. Red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/3 c. Green onions, finely sliced (mainly white and light green end)
- 1 tbsp. Minced garlic (or garlic paste)
- ½ tbsp. Sweet cream, salted butter
- 4 Instant grits individual sized packets (original flavor)
- 2 c. Whole milk
- 3 tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. Creole seasoning (this recipe uses Tony’s)
- ½ tsp. Garlic powder
- ½ tsp. Parsley flakes
- 4 oz. Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 oz. Gouda cheese, shredded
Blackened Catfish Ingredients (4 servings):
- 2 tbsp. Creole seasoning
- 1 tsp. Sea salt (only if Creole seasoning doesn’t have salt)
- 1 lb. Catfish fillets (4 oz. per serving)
- ½ Lemon
- 1 tbsp. Sweet cream, salted butter
- Pan drippings from sautéed sausage above
1) Season the catfish fillets. Coat both sides of each catfish piece liberally with some of the blackened seasonings (approximately ½ tablespoon per 4 oz. piece). Sprinkle a little sea salt on each piece as well if there is no salt in the blackened seasoning.
2) Next, prepare the andouille sausage and ingredients as directed in the list above. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add ½ tbsp. sweet cream butter to it.
3) Add the sausage, bell pepper, green onions, and minced garlic to the hot skillet. Sauté for 6 to 7 minutes until the sausage is brown and crispy and vegetables are cooked through and soft as shown in the photo above. Remove all of this from the skillet and set aside.
4) Keep the heat level on medium and add 1 tbsp. of butter to the cast iron skillet. Spread it around to melt and also help pick up any garlic or red bell pepper bits stuck to the skillet.
5) Add the catfish fillets to the hot pan and let them cook on first side for 4 minutes. Flip the fillets, and as the second side cooks, spoon some of the seasoned, melted butter on the bottom of the skillet over the top of the fillets as they cook. Turn the heat off once cooked through (total time approx. 8-9 min.) and squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over the fish.
6) Prepare the grits by mixing the 4 packets of instant grits, 2 cups whole milk, 3 tbsp. of water, 1 tsp. of Creole seasoning, ½ tsp. garlic powder, and ½ tsp. parsley flakes to a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high this for 2 minutes.
7) Remove grits from microwave and mix in shredded cheeses. Microwave again for another 90 seconds. Remove from microwave again and fold in the sautéed sausage/bell pepper/green onion mixture. Microwave together for a final 30 seconds, and it is ready to serve with the catfish.
8) Start with a base of the cheesy andouille sausage grits and add a 4 ounce serving of the blackened catfish on top. Garnish with any greens you prefer (I used watercress) or just some of the thinly sliced green onion tops.
This Creole dish perfect for Fat Tuesday or any day you are needing a delicious plate of southern comfort food!
Check back in every week for more Direct Your Dining recipes to help reduce your energy use in the kitchen while getting creative with delicious dishes. Next week, we will feature a very special brunch recipe perfect for this year’s Valentine’s Day!
Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan