02 August 2010

Redfish annalowrey

My favorite restaurant in Jackson is Walker's Drive-In. It's just good. Others are good as well, but not as consistently great as Walker's.

One of it's most bestest menu items is Redfish Anna. It's been on the menu since I can remember ordering it for the first time some ten years ago (perhaps much longer), and it's always been great.

It is a paneed redfish with creamy crabmeat and lemon butter on top. Usually served with mashed taters and either asparagus or thin beans. It's just amazing...

My favorite cookbook, I think, maybe.... Okay fine, in my top five cookbooks is this one:

I got it as a gift from a dear friend, maybe for a birthday, or maybe for a just because present. i don't know, becky sue, when was it?

Anyway - it is the recipe book from my favorite town in the world, Oxford, Mississippi.
I fell in love there, I nurtured my love of food there, I married there, I taught my baby to love the park and pool and also to walk and talk there.

And I ate. A lot.

I'm realizing at this moment in my writing that I cannot do a post on Oxford/Square Table and on Redfish Annalowrey or it will be novella length, so perhaps I'll do a series on cookbooks, because, well, I take them to bed like some women take romance novels.

And, and you'll be shocked at this: I have opinions about cookbooks.

So, I was flipping through Square Table some years ago - right after I received it, and I saw this recipe for Paneed Redfish.

I'm not a huge fish girl - I'm a shrimp girl, but you won't find me eating Salmon, Ahi Tuna (although I'll mow down a tuna melt), or many other little swimmers. But I love redfish.

Mainly because of my adolescent introduction to Redfish Anna.

So, I'm flipping through, see Paneed Redfish, read it, and think "I've found redfish anna, but really it's even better because it has shrimp on top instead of crabmeat, which I tend to prefer"

And I made it. And I've never had a dirtier kitchen or a more inefficient night (I was a toddler cook at the time), but it was SO good. And then I tinkered with it, and became a much better cook, and now it is mine. All mine.

So, here we go.

Early in the day - say 1 pm ish - (it is not necessary to start this early - just a tip for your cooking energy/sanity), chop up an onion - medium to large. small to medium dice. Put it in a pot with about 3 - 4 T butter. Do not turn on.

Then take a can of artichoke hearts and drain it and put them on your cutting board.

Then go at them like you've got a chance to chop up the precious comic books of your least favorite high school teacher. Or some other thing you have a secret desire to destroy.

And in a few minutes, you'll have:

And you'll feel better.

Add those to the pot. Put the top on.

Walk away.

Now hear this. Butter, artichokes and onions will not go bad in the span of an afternoon. This way you can get an annoying prep work step out of the way, cut your cooking time later by twenty minutes, and feel better about life. Do not listen to people about the boogie man of going bad things.
Butter takes a good couple of days to go bad at room temp. I have a friend whose dad insists on soft butter in the morning with his breakfast. Her mother puts it out for him each night. Never has there been an adverse reaction (except perhaps to his demanding nature.... =) ).

Now, later in the day, after you're ready to make the sauce for real, as early as 2 hours pre meal and as late as 45 minutes pre meal, come back to the stove.

Turn on pot. Medium heat. Stir occasionally. Let onions and artichokes cook down, you'll want to eat it with a spoon.

After about 10 minutes, grab the flour.

Flour is the best thing with which to thicken a sauce or soup, it just has to be done well.

Dump in 3 T.

Stir vigorously and turn down to low.

Now, grab the two best ingredients in the history of white sauces. Maybe in the history of the world.
Heavy Cream and Dry Vermouth.

Trust me.

In a measuring cup, put 1 cup of heavy cream. Get over it. It's a cream sauce. What did you expect? Soy products?

Lick your lips as you pour it into the artichokes and onions.

Now, in the same measuring cup, put 1/2 cup of the vermouth. Pour it in.

Now grab the best ingredient EVER:

One of my dearest, darling groomsmen in our wedding eats this stuff on chips. That's a bit extreme, but only a bit.

Throw in a few dashes. Tabasco is one of the only items about which I think a "dash" is an appropriate measure. 2 if you're squeamish, 5 if you're brave, 3-4 if you're me.
Stir. Turn up to medium to medium high.

Now, take 1/2 lb shrimp. I need an entire blog post on what shrimp is worth what money and what you should use in what, but for now: 1/2 lb most any size shrimp, chopped into pieces that are about as big as your thumbnail. We are not mincing, but we are not just chopping medium shrimp in half.
I used 31-40 size shrimp (Shrimp is sized with the number of shrimp per pound - so 8-10 shrimp are HUGE and 71-80 shrimp are teenincy) Medium shrimp are usually 30-50 shrimp. So i took one of my medium shrimp and chopped it into 5 pieces approximately, but trust me, I was not counting....

I regret no pictures of the shrimp chopping. I've had to use too many words.

Throw them in the pot. Stir. Put top on. Turn off pot. There is enough heat in that little pot to plenty cook those little diced up shrimp. Believe you me.

Take a bunch of asparagus. Lop off the bottom 20%. Do this before you take it out of the rubber bands. You'll thank me later.

Admire the beauty God gives us in food. Asparagus is pretty. No denying it. Of course, my favorite color is green....

Bring a giant pot of salted water to a boil. Throw in asparagus. Do not walk away. Do 45 jumping jacks (which should take you approximately 120 seconds). Take out asparagus, if it's small like this. If it's not small, give it another minute or two. Do not cook this asparagus for less than two minutes or more than five.

Then pull get it out of there.

See how bright green?

Now for the redfish. I admit, I failed at taking pictures of the following process, so you'll have to forgive me.

You need about 1/2 a fillet a person, or 1/3 of a lb. I allow 1/2 a lb, but always have left overs.

Put the fillet pieces (you don't want to cook them in whole fillets. Cut 'em in half. Perfect serving size.) Put 'em on a cookie sheet or somefin'. Sprinkle with garlic salt and lemon pepper.

Then dredge them in flour.

Then, 10 minutes before you want to sit down, put 4 T butter in the biggest skillet you have. Turn on Medium High. Give it a second. Put in fillets.
Follow these instructions precisely:
Turn on sauce, medium, stir.
Turn around and preheat your oven broiler to high.
Go to pantry, get out worcestershire sauce.
Flip fillets in pan. If you are having to do these in batches, you're going to have to adjust. Your goal is 2 minutes on each side. But really, buy a bigger skillet. You won't regret it.
Measure 1/2 cup worcestershire into a liquid measuring cup.
Juice a lemon into the measuring cup. (Should be about 3 -4 Tbsps. I won't tell if you used bottled stuff). Stir together with worcestershire.
Put fillets into a jelly roll or roasting pan or something with sides.
Pour lemon juice/worcestershire mixture over them.
Pop in oven.
Stir Sauce.
Pile four to six plates with mashed taters (which you've made during this process....).
Pop fillets out of oven (2-3 minutes in oven).
Plop fish leaning against mashed potatoes.
Place asparagus on top of that.
Pour sauce on top of all.

Unbutton pants and proceed to feast like a king.

Yes, the last ten minutes of this cooking experience are kind of frantic, but that's how you get Walker's quality food.. =) And you can see why there aren't any pictures of the last ten minutes.

What do the kids eat on nights like this? (I'm not opposed to giving them redfish - they'll eat it the next day - but when we have feasts like this, they usually go to sleep before we eat... so....

lots of times they get a sampler plate. Carrots, lettuce, chicken, pasta salad. All with a ramekin of ranch in which to dip it.

And a popsicle.

I'm tired now. And kind of hungry.


  1. Few comments:

    - That sauce looks delish. I can almost smell it from here. I agree, Tabasco is amazing. Have you ever been to Avery Island, where it's made? A very cool place, and you can smell the Tabasco from a mile away.

    - The asparagus do look beautiful. We cooked A LOT of asparagus at the beginning of this summer. And I never even thought of leaving the rubber-band on before cutting the ends of - what a great idea!! Do you use the leftovers for anything? I never thought to, until Rachael Ray suggested last week using them in a cream soup.

    - 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce - wow! That seems like a lot! Is the fish very spicy?

    - I wondered if your kids would eat this! Do they like spicy food?

    - The last few minutes DO sound hectic. That's my biggest challenge when cooking - time management. I love the idea of prepping the onions & artichoke hearts hours ahead. I have free time when Nicholas naps but it always seems too far head to do any dinner prep!

  2. Ok- Apparently my long comment didn't post so we will try again.

    1. I loved this recipe so much when we had it at your house once- ghost birthday cake night? or was it some other dinner?

    2. Do you remember Sue denying the existance of redfis because they didn't sell it in Fairview?

    3. Maybe I got it for you because the Anderson case was dismised? :)

    4. Also, I was reminded this week of the time you and I decided Tom Waits was dead and convinced Adam of the same. We were wrong.

  3. 1. Some other dinner - St. Patrick's day, maybe?

    2. Yes...

    3. Was it? I've blocked it all.

    4. He is too dead.

  4. And to the other rebecca -

    1. I have not been to Avery Island, but I hear it's amazing.

    2. I haven't ever used the leftovers, but may... just cause you said.
    3. Not too spicy, but it's covered with all that mild sauce, so it's not at all when you eat it.

    4. They do eat it! They eat a lot of things, though. Not as spicy as I like, but I'm training them to like it spicier and spicier.

    5. It is not too far ahead! Prep in the morning! I baked potatoes yesterday morning for last night's soup. They were just fine.