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Fried Catfish and Marsala Linguinie: Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy brings a new touch to a summer catch with Fried Catfish and Marsala Linguini in “Braising the Wild.”

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Fried Catfish and Marsala Linguini for “Braising the Wild.”
Jack Hennessy

The things I learning from Jack Hennessy in “Braising the Wild” never seem to end. This week he prepares a summer catch a different way in Fried Catfish and Marsala Linguini.

Here’s the thing, I love my wife’s Marsala Chicken dish. But in all the years of eating it, I never realized that Marsala comes in dry and sweet. Nor that the dry would add more savory notes while sweet adds fruity ones. Now I know.

Here is the recipe:

FRIED CATFISH AND MARSALA LINGUINI

My favorite pastas are often the ones with sauces made from two simple ingredients: butter and wine. This one involves Marsala and while not the best wine to sip while cooking with it, Marsala does add a subtle warm and nutty flavor to any dish.

To be honest, I have used both dry Marsala and sweet Marsala when cooking. There is a difference. Dry Marsala results in more savory flavors, while sweet Marsala will add hints of fruit. I would recommend a dry Marsala for this recipe, something like Florio (“Dry” should appear on the label).

We get a lot of catfish in my neck of the woods, but this recipe will work with any white-flesh fish such as walleye, bluegill, crappie, etc.

Ingredients (make Four servings):

Two 8-ounce catfish fillets, skinned and cut into strips

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons your favorite fish spice mix

1-1/2 cups buttermilk

1-pound box linguini

8 ounces broccoli florets

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1-1/2 cups dry Marsala wine

1/2 pound butter, mixed use

Canola oil for frying

Olive oil, mixed use

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, mixed use

Freshly minced parsley for garnish (optional)

To prepare:

Cut catfish into small strips and soak in buttermilk for minimum 3 hours (longer if from a bigger fish or one caught from muddy, non- or slow-moving water).

Boil water and cook linguini till slightly al dente (like 8 minutes in boiling water). Drain and rinse pasta in cold water then coat in little bit of olive oil to avoid sticking.

In a deep sauté pan, heat half inch of canola oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour and spices in large bowl or deep platter.

Once oil is heated, toss catfish through flour dredge. Shake off any excess flour. Four pieces is ideal amount for pan frying since more can create steam and result in less-crispy texture. Turn pieces with tongs once underside turns golden. Remove with all sides are golden and fish is cooked thoroughly and set on napkin-covered plate.

In a large skillet heated to medium-high, add a thin layer of olive oil along with broccoli florets and diced onion and green bell pepper. Lightly salt and pepper.

Sear vegetables until slightly brown and soft. Deglaze with a half cup Marsala wine.

Let vegetables simmer until Marsala evaporates then remove and set on a plate.

Turn heat on skillet down to medium-low and, for each serving, add a handful of pasta and a handful of vegetables with a light dusting of salt and pepper.

Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup Marsala wine per serving in skillet (more butter if pasta still seems dry). Continue to toss until butter is melted.

Once butter is melted, add 4 ounces fried catfish per serving, toss once more to coat with liquids and to warm, then serve. Garnish with freshly minced pasta.