A Cajun court bouillon (KOO-bah-yawn) bears little resemblance to its elite French counterpart. The latter is a clear, delicate, white-wine-based broth in which seafood or chicken is poached; the former, a robust Acadian fish stew brimming with color, texture, and zest. Although Cajun court bouillon is traditionally simmered on the stove, this easy oven method produces a stellar result.
Serves 8 to 10
¼ Cup safflower oil
¼ Cup organic all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, diced
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 (14 ½ -ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
3 to 4 drops bitters (Peychaud’s, or Texacello’s Bad Dog Fire & Damnation Bitters)
6 catfish fillets (1 to 1 ½ pounds total)
2 to 3 tablespoons Cajun spice for fish
1 cup crawfish tail meat
1 cup chopped green onions
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cups fish stock, chicken stock, or water
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt to taste
4 to 5 cups hot cooked rice, prepared according to package directions
Preheat the oven to 300° F.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the oil and flour together in a Dutch oven (or 5-quart stockpot with a fitted cover) over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the roux turns a light-brown peanut butter color.
Add the onion, garlic, and peppers and stir for 3 to 5 minutes, until they wilt and become soft. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the thyme, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and bitters. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Rinse the fillets and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with Cajun spice seasoning.
Using a ladle, transfer about two thirds of the bouillon in the pot to a bowl.
Lay 2 fillets on the remaining bouillon in the pot and sprinkle with ⅓ cup of the crawfish tails, ⅓ cup of the green onions, and one third of the parsley.
Ladle half of the mixture in the bowl back into the pot, add another layer of catfish, crawfish, green onions, and parsley, and repeat the process. Gently pour the stock over the mixture, arrange the lemon slices on top, and dot with the butter. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Season with salt. Serve over rice.