Zeke Babin's Black Pot Courtbouillon

Prep Time: 2 ½ Hours
Yields: 8-10

Zeke Babin of St. Amant introduced me to this unique version of fish courtbouillon. Like all good recipes, it was passed on to him by a friend, Ms. Sims Leader of White Hall. He in turn shared it with his sons Cory and Scott. What makes this recipe so interesting is the simple procedure used in cooking the dish and just how versatile it is using numerous varieties of fish and shellfish. Try it -you'll be stunned by the great flavor.

12 (5-7 ounce) catfish fillets
24 (21-count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ pound butter
2½ cups diced onions
2 cups diced celery
1 cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup minced garlic
1½ tbsps salt
1½ tbsps black pepper
2 tbsps granulated garlic
2 tbsps paprika
6 tbsps all purpose flour or oil-less brown roux*
1 cup sliced green onions
¼ cup minced parsley
½ cup hot water

In a heavy bottomed 12" sauté pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Remove from heat and set aside. In a 6-quart black iron pot, place 1/3 of sautéed vegetables. Top with four fillets of catfish and eight shrimp. Sprinkle with one third of the salt, pepper, granulated garlic, paprika and flour or roux. Add one third of green onions and parsley. Continue layering and seasoning until all are used up. The top layer of catfish should have a good covering of green onions and parsley. Carefully pour in ½ cup hot water to add moisture to bottom. Place pot on low heat and cover tightly. Cook for one hour. Do not uncover during this process. The steaming inside the pot allows the natural juices from the fish to incorporate into the seasonings. After one hour, remove lid and using a rubber spatula, gently separate ingredients from sides of pot, DO NOT STIR! This ensures even liquid distribution in pot. Re-cover and cook one additional hour. The courtbouillon should have a slightly rusty color due to the paprika and the consistency of the liquid should be stew-like. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over rice or pasta.

* Available at your local grocery