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Pan-Seared Catfish with Papaya Chutney Over Creamy Cheddar Jalapeño Grits

To impress anyone’s palate in both flavor and intense spiciness, try this recipe.  It was the entree of our Can You Beat the Heat? dinner party for family, friends, and readers, and it was a hit; making it more enjoyable was the milkshake to help cool down between bites.

Makes 6 (it’s best to make this in small batches, even if you have way more than 6 guests)

• For the papaya chutney:

chutney ingredients

chutney ingredients

2 cups of peeled and seeded papaya meat

1/2 cup of diced red onion

1/4 cup of raisins

1/4 cup of water

1/8 cup of crystallized ginger

3 tbs. of red wine vinegar

2 tbs. of Blair’s Beyond Death Sauce

2 tbs. of brown sugar

1 tbs. of soybean oil

1 garlic clove

Pinch of salt

sauteing onion and garlic

sauteing onion and garlic

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat to saute the diced red onion and garlic clove for about 6 minutes until tender.

stewing the chutney

stewing the chutney

Add all other ingredients, bring to a simmer, then reduce to the lowest heat setting and cook for about 30 minutes.

done

done

You want to achieve a consistency of a super thick and chunky applesauce.

• For the grits:

2 1/2 cups of water

1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill organic grits

3 tbs. of Blair’s Jalapeño Death Sauce

2 tbs. of butter

2 tbs. of kosher salt

Combine the water and milk in a small saucepan with the salt and bring to a light simmer on medium heat.  Once simmering, reduce to medium-low and add the grits and hot sauce.  Cook for 6-10 minutes, depending on the desired texture (shorter time for al dente, longer for softer).  Stir frequently and scrape down the sides and bottom of the pan to make sure nothing sticks.  After 6-10 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the cheese and butter.  Taste test for saltiness and add a pinch if necessary.  Let sit for a minute, then serve.

• For the catfish:

6 catfish filets

1 tbs. of butter

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and melt the butter.  Season both sides of the filets with salt and pepper, then lay each one in the pan, one at a time and 15 seconds apart so as not to shock-cool the pan and the butter.  Depending on the size of the pan, cook only 2-3 filets at a time.  Cook about 4 minutes on each side until they achieve a nice golden brown crust.  The fish will be firm and slightly flaky when done.

catfish, papaya chutney, cheddar jalapeño grits

catfish, papaya chutney, cheddar jalapeño grits

Layer the chutney over the filet on top of a scoop of grits.  Sprinkle a little more Jalapeño Death for good measure.

Blair’s Jalapeño Death Sauce

jalapeño death

jalapeño death

Our collection of hot sauces is overwhelmed by Blair’s because he just makes so many different kinds.  His Jalapeño Death Sauce with Tequila is on the milder side compared to some of the others we have, but who are we kidding, this is still spicy!  Our Can You Beat the Heat? dinner party featured this for the entree, and it added a bold flavor with heat to match.  She’s no expert on New Mexican cuisine, but August was reminded by the flavor of an ex-grandma in law’s cooking that was rich and enchanting.  Fresh jalapeños, vinegar, tomatillos, garlic, key lime juice, shallots, olive oil, sea salt, cilantro, cane sugar, onions, and blue agave tequila combine for a sauce great to complement fish, chicken, and even savory breakfast eggs.  Try it on any number of dishes, and let us know what you think!

Flipside, Oakland CA

It’s National Hamburger Day!  Clearly a celebration was in order.  Zach did the research to find Flipside, a comfortable joint serving burgers, fries, shakes, and more.  Besides beef on your burger you can also choose chicken, turkey, garden burger, and portabella, and the three meats are all natural and hormone free.  However, despite the tasty patty selection, we came here in honor of the day and just had to get traditional beef burgers.  The beef is Certified Angus and never frozen, and the quality is noticeable.  Next time, though, we’ll try some other varieties (and yes, there will be a next time).

chili cheese fries

chili cheese fries

Zach is picky about chili.  Very picky.  It’s a “he’s won a couple of cookoffs” kind of picky.  The chili cheese fries were a special today, and Zach asked to try a bite before ordering.  We were happy when he nodded his head in approval!  The fries may be frozen, but the chili makes up for them.  The cheese whiz complemented the rich, meaty, beanless chili, which was very bold in spices but not overly spice-y.

the hangover

the hangover

All burgers are served on one of three breads: Texas toast, 9-grain, or signature classic.  We both stuck with the signature which is a giant, soft brioche that held together through the end of the meal.  For his burger, Zach chose the “Hangover” for its combination of toppings including a fried egg, American cheese, applewood smoked bacon, french fries, and tabasco mayonnaise.  To this he also added jalapeño jack cheese and grilled ham, calling it a “Zachover.”  The fried egg provided a nice richness when the yolk was broken, blending with the spicy tanginess of the tabasco mayonnaise.  We agreed that the beef on both our burgers was thick, well seasoned, and tasty, and Zach’s particular pile of toppings made his burger memorable.  He says, “Meaty, cheesy, extremely filling, and all-in-one, this burger is hard to beat.”

the california sensation

the california sensation

The burgers come with choice of french fries or a house salad, and for a small upcharge you can switch to sides like sweet potato fries, garlic fries, curly fries, and beer battered onion rings.  The rings, like the french fries, are frozen, but the person at the fryer really knows what (s)he’s doing to make these taste fresh and maintain great texture.  August enjoyed her onion rings with the “Californian Sensation” burger, featuring avocado, Swiss cheese, sprouts, and “flip sauce” (the house’s version of thousand island).  She’s always liked sprouts but has rarely had them on a burger, so this was a nice change of pace from standard lettuce.  The green taste was deep and earthy.  Having an extensive history with avocado (it was her first food, after all), August appreciates more than anyone can know the importance of fresh, ripe avocado.  She was very happy here with how the avocado was ripe enough to spread itself out and be a part of nearly every bite of the burger

Like we said, we had burgers today because it’s National Hamburger Day, but there’s plenty of other items to try from Flipside’s menu.  Salads, a “kids’ corner,” and fountain-style shakes and malts, plus vegetarian options, make this a place suitable for all ages and all tastes.