Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cookbook Thursday: Country's 'Greatest Eats'

            Some of country music’s greatest stars have come together in a new cookbook that’s a collaboration in its own right — between Southern Living and the CMT channel — with “Greatest Eats: Showstopping Recipes and Riffs from Country’s Biggest Stars.”
            As you might imagine, there’s plenty of dishes from the heartland, such as casseroles, beer can chicken, ribs and pot roast. But there’s also gluten-free spaghetti Pomodore from Laura Bell Bundy, who suffers from celiac disease, and innovative meat-free dishes from vegetarian Katie Cook. It’s an eclectic range offering a wonderful variety, from Wynonna Judd’s broccoli-rice casserole to Zac Brown Band’s personal chef Rusty Hamlin of Baton Rouge, who dishes up Louisiana-inspired creations such as Louisiana blue crab-stuffed catfish fillets.
            The book is filled with photos and personal stories of the musicians, accented by their album covers and accomplishments, plus excellent shots of the food. The cover was created by the Hatch Show Print shop, a landmark in Nashville that’s been producing concert posters and album covers for 135 years.
            The following are recipes for Hamlin's catfish fillets and also Alan Jackson's "Favorite Chicken Salad."

Louisiana Blue Crab-Stuffed Catfish Fillets
Makes: 6 servings   
8 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, plus more to taste
1⁄8 teaspoon hot sauce, plus more to taste
1⁄2 pound fresh lump blue crabmeat, drained
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
6 (7-ounce) fresh catfish fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Table salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bacon-Mushroom Stone-Ground Grits
Cajun Rémoulade
            Directions: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and next three ingredients, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, and 1⁄8 teaspoon hot sauce, and cook one minute. Add crabmeat, breadcrumbs, and additional Cajun seasoning and hot sauce, if desired. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
            Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butterfly catfish fillets by making a lengthwise cut in one side, cutting to but not through the opposite side; unfold. Spoon stuffing crab mixture evenly down center of one side of each butterflied fillet; fold opposite side over stuffing. Brush fillets with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place fillets on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Serve with Bacon-Mushroom Stone-Ground Grits and Cajun Rémoulade.

Alan’s Favorite Chicken Salad
Makes: 6 servings   
4 (6-ounce) skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup toasted slivered almonds
3⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries (optional)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lettuce leaves

            Directions: Bring chicken and next three ingredients to a light boil in a large  Dutch oven over medium heat; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove from heat; drain. Cool chicken 10 minutes; shred chicken with two forks. Combine chicken, almonds, mayonnaise, and cranberries, if desired, in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper. Serve on lettuce leaves.