Wednesday, February 20, 2013

So Crazy It Just Might Work - Chicken Fried Fish

Good evening everyone. Many of you are likely familiar with the process of “chicken frying” a piece of meat. Most commonly, the “chicken frying” process happens to steak (I.E. chicken fried steak), it’s a primarily southern dish that earns its name because the steak is cooked and breaded much like fried chicken.

I’ve never actually had chicken fried steak, as the concept of beef breaded and fat or oil fried has never fully appealed to me. Last weekend, however, while perusing the pages of our latest food network magazine, I found something that caught my attention, chicken fried FISH. Better yet, LOW CALORIE chicken fried fish.

After a quick read through of the recipe, I found that it was really chicken fried in name only (the breading process is more of a natural breading process for fish) but the addition of its own white cream sauce and the chance to try yet another breading technique was too much to pass up. So, can you chicken fry a fish? Let’s find out!

The Recipe: Chicken Fried Fish
Original Recipe Found In: Food Network Magazine March 2013 Issue

What You’ll Need:
(Serves 4)

12 Ounces Green Beans (Trimmed)
4 X 6 Ounce Tilapia Fillets
¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
¼ Teaspoon Paprika
2 Large Eggs
¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
1 ¼ Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
¼ Cup Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Parsley

To Prepare the green beans:

Add the beans in a microwave safe dish along with ¼ cup of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap and microwave the beans on high for 5 minutes, or until tender.

For the fish:

Combine the flour and paprika in a shallow dish and crack and beat the eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Assemble your dish in a row (as we traditionally do with breading dishes) – eggs first, followed by the flour mixture. Make sure to have a plate at the end of your “assembly line” to put the finished fish on.

Begin by thoroughly drying off the fish fillets. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one thousand times – moisture is the enemy of breading. Any water left on the fillet WILL sabotage the breading quality. Take a few extra minutes to blot off the excess moisture; you’ll appreciate the end result.

Once the fillets are dry, season them lightly with a little salt and pepper. Next, dunk the fillet into the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Dredge the fillet in the flour mixture, making sure that all sides and crevices are evenly coated. Repeat this process until all of the fillets are breaded. Reserve the excess flour mixture –you’ll be using it later on.

Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large (12 inch) non stick skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add 2 fillets and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until the breading is golden brown and the fish beneath is opaque and flaky. Transfer the fish to a plate tented loosely with aluminum foil and set aside.

Wipe the skillet clean, and then add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil shimmers, add 3 tablespoons of the reserved flour mixture from earlier, along with the chicken broth and ¼ cup of water. Make sure to whisk the mixture frequently while allowing it to come to a boil. Once boiling, add the milk, cream cheese and parsley, be sure to stir well to evenly incorporate everything. Continue whisking this mixture until it begins to thicken – this should take about 2 minutes. Season this sauce with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Serve the sauce over the fillet alongside the green beans. Sprinkle a little extra paprika on top of the fillets prior to serving just to boost the flavor. Enjoy!

The Results:

As I alluded to in the open, calling this recipe “chicken fried” is a bit of a misnomer – it’s not really any different from a battered fish recipe. Since it’s served alongside its very own white cream sauce, however, you can get away with a creative title. That being said, the battering of this dish is delicious and crispy with just a hint of heat from the paprika.

The true star of this dish, however, was the sauce. Oh. My. Goodness. The sauce is one of the best we've cooked up on the blog. Creamy, yet full of great depth and flavor, it's one of those sauces that you immediately think; "What else can I use this on". It's fantastic and worth trying this whole recipe just to cook up the sauce. I’ve never created a sauce for fish that wasn’t lemon or butter based, so this foray into ‘creamy’ was a fun path to follow. The green beans add a nice layer of freshness to the dish and actually taste quite good with a little of the cream sauce too! (Yes, I actually liked the green beans - mark that under "Things I never thought I would say")

That’s all we have for you this week. If you live in the greater Midwest, good luck dodging the impending snowstorm. It looks like the greater Des Moines metro is going to get nailed…did I mention I HATE winter? Yuck. Either way, we’re back next week with more delicious new adventures in the culinary world. Until then,


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