This Blackened Catfish and Smoked Gouda Grits dish is a flavorful southern recipe with spicy blackened catfish served over creamy, cheesy grits all topped off with a Cajun cream sauce!
I’m participating in the 2021 Black History Virtual Potluck - a collaborative menu of recipes contributed by 40+ black bloggers from around the globe in honor of Black History Month. See a sampling of some of the phenomenal participant recipes down below!
For those of you who don't know, I am a Southern girl straight out of Mississippi. One thing that we eat a lot of where I'm from is catfish as it is largely farmed and raised in Mississippi.
I know not everyone is familiar with or has easy access to catfish in their region. However, I encourage you to give catfish a try if you ever have the opportunity! This Blackened Catfish and Smoked Gouda Grits recipe is a great one to get started with.
What Does Catfish Taste Like?
Catfish is a mild, almost sweet flavored fish with a firmer texture with less flake than other white fish. It is extremely versatile however and can be used in a variety of different recipes.
What Are Grits?
Grits are also a uniquely Southern ingredient and are typically served for breakfast. Shrimp and Grits is also a widely known quintessential Southern dish featuring this unique ingredient.
Grits are basically just ground corn that is boiled and typically has some sort of milk and butter added. Now that you know a little bit about the Southern roots of these ingredients - let's get on with the recipe, shall we?!
What Is Blackened Seasoning?
Blackened seasoning, also called blackening seasoning, is a mixture of chili powders, herbs, and spices. It is a spicy seasoning that can be described as a cross between Cajun and Creole seasoning blends. You can purchase premade blackened seasoning from your grocer or you can make it yourself.
While the seasoning is definitely spicy, it's not overly hot, perfect if you are looking for that bold flavor without an excessive amount of heat. However, when making your own blackened seasoning, you can easily adjust the level of heat to your preference by altering the amount of each spice.
The term blackening doesn't refer to the seasoning mix, and rather the cooking process itself. It is the generous seasoning of the protein and cooking in hot oil or butter until a dark golden and crispy crust is formed by the seasoning coating.
My favorite store-bought brand of blackened seasoning is Zatarain's New Orleans Style Blackened Seasoning. If you prefer to make your own blackened seasoning, this is a great recipe by Miss In The Kitchen, and she provides both a spicy and non-spicy option.
How to Make This Recipe
This recipe is surprisingly simple to make and comes together quickly. I also made a quick Cajun/Creole Cream Sauce as a delicious finishing touch to bring everything together.
How to Prepare the Blackened Catfish
- Rinse and pat your catfish filets dry with paper towels before you get started.
- Season each side generously with blackening seasoning. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add catfish.
- Cook catfish 3-5 minutes per side, adjusting heat if needed. You want a nice crust on the outside of your catfish. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
How To Make Smoked Gouda Grits
- I use stone-ground grits in my recipes as they tend to have more texture and corn flavor than quick-cooking grits. They do take a bit longer to prepare (10-15 minutes) than quick-cooking grits but they are totally worth it!
- Start by boiling a pot of salted water. Add grits into boiling water, stirring constantly. My rule of thumb is two parts water to one part grits. I go with this ratio because I also add half and half to my grits later in the cooking process and it yields a perfect, thick, and creamy grit texture.
- Once grits come to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Allow grits to simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add in half and half and continue to stir. I don't measure the half and half but typically end up adding about ¼ cup or so.
- Continue to stir grits until creamy and smooth. Test to ensure the texture isn't too "gritty". Add in seasonings of choice. I like to go with salt (if needed), black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Once grits have reached the desired consistency (after about 10-12 minutes), add in shredded cheese and stir to combine. I add somewhere between ¾ cup to a full cup of shredded cheese and you want your grits to be nice and cheesy. Lastly, add in a dollop of butter if desired.
How to Make Cajun Cream Sauce
- This cream sauce is super quick and easy and can be added to just about any seafood dish!
- Chop half of a medium onion and half of a seeded red pepper and set aside.
- Wipe out the skillet that you cooked the fish in, leaving some of the charred bits. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent. Add in two cloves of chopped garlic.
- Once the garlic is fragrant, add in 1 cup of heavy cream, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until sauce begins to bubble and thicken.
- Add in 1 teaspoon of blackened seasoning and stir. Once sauce coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat.
Bringing Everything Together
Spoon two ladles of Smoked Gouda Grits onto a large plate. Place one catfish filet over top of grits and top with two spoon fulls of Cajun Cream Sauce.
Garnish with chopped scallions and enjoy!
Here Are Some Other Cajun Recipes You Will Love!
Blackened Catfish and Smoked Gouda Grits
- 4 catfish filets rinsed and patted dry, about 1.25 -1.5 pounds
- 2 tablespoon blackened seasoning recipe linked above in post
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Smoked Gouda Grits
Cajun Cream Sauce
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup yellow onion chopped, about half a medium onion
- ¼ cup red bell pepper seeded and chopped, about half a medium bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon blackened seasoning
For the Blackened Catfish
- Season both sides of catfish generously with blackened seasoning and set aside.
- Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add catfish and cook 3-5 minutes per side, adjusting heat if needed.
- Transfer cooked catfish to paper towel lined plate to drain.
Smoked Gouda Grits
- In a medium saucepan, bring one and a half cups of salted water to a boil. Add ¾ cup of stone ground grits to boiling water and stir to combine.
- Once grits come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in half and half to grits and continue to simmer until thick and creamy. Add in salt (if needed), black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Once desired consistency is reached, add in grated Gouda cheese and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cajun Cream Sauce
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in same skillet that you cooked the catfish in (wipe out with paper towel first but leave some charred bits).
- Add chopped onion and bell pepper to skillet and cook until onion is translucent. Add in chopped garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant.
- Add heavy cream and cook until sauce begins to bubble and thicken, stirring constantly. Add one teaspoon of blackened seasoning to sauce and stir to incorporate.
- Once sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat.
- Ladle grits onto plate and top with one catfish filet and spoon Cajun Cream Sauce over top. Garnish with chopped scallions.
You can check out some of the other scrumptious recipes featured in the 2021 Black History Month Virtual Potluck below! These recipes were created by some incredibly talented Black food bloggers - show some love!