The most recent edition of “Tuesdays with Troy”, on Fox Charlotte’s morning show Fox News Rising; Chef Troy made it pretty clear how he feels about the free use of the word “blackened” on menus across the country.
“First of all, blackened is not just a seasoning, it is a technique”, Troy states boldly as the segment opens. “Don’t get me wrong there are many restaurants, like Charlotte’s own Cajun Queen, that are doing it right”, but some are simply shaking and baking.
The chef goes on and rants about the fact that “just because you put the seasoning on whatever it is you are blackening doesn’t make it blackened”.
The technique, created by Cajun cooking god Chef Paul Prudhomme, is to get an iron skillet screaming hot, past the smoking point. Next the protein, Chef Paul created the dish and technique using red fish, is dipped in butter, seasoned and rubbed with blackened seasoning and placed in the skillet.
“Being a grill guy, it only made sense to do this preparation outdoors”, says Chef Troy, “and once you try it inside you will see why”.
As soon as the butter and seasoned fish hits the hot skillet smoked billows upward and continues to smoke until flipped and then it smokes some more.
“This is the key, the ‘secret’ if you will, to proper blackening; heat, butter, good seasoning and smoke. As soon as the fish hits that skillet a crust starts to form, creating flavor and locking in the moisture of the fish”, Troy explains.
After the show Troy Says, “I didn’t mean to sound perturbed, but when you get something at a restaurant that says it’s blackened and it’s only seasoned that way and not cooked the way it is supposed to be, it really irritates me”, I mean really, every place has a flat top or pans that can make it happen the right way”; I guess I feel that since Chef Paul invented it and gave it the name we all as chef’s should respect that; and if you aren’t going to do it right don’t called it blackened”.
Despite being a little hostile, the lesson was taught and heard by many. However, only time will tell if local chef’s make the effort to “do the right thing”, as Chef Troy puts it, and implement the proper technique when offering blackened items on their menus.
Blackened Fish with Charred Corn Cream Sauce
Serves 4 as an Entrée
- 4 Each Filets of Fish-Grouper, Red Fish, Trout, Catfish or your favorite
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
- To Taste Blackened Seasoning
- 2 Ounces Unsalted Butter
- 1 Ounce Onion-fine chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Roasted Garlic-or 2 cloves of fresh chopped garlic
- 2 Ounces Chicken Stock
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Each Fresh Corn-par boiled 12 minutes, oiled, seasoned, charred, cut off cob
- 3-5 Leaves Fresh Basil-rough chopped, plus extra to garnish
Melt the butter in a small stock pot and add the onion, cook until onion becomes translucent about 5 minutes. Add the roasted garlic or fresh garlic and half of the corn; cook for 5 minutes. Remaining corn will be used as a garnish once the sauce is on the dish.
Turn heat up slightly and then add the chicken stock, stirring frequently and cook until most of the stock has evaporated. Next add the cream, salt, pepper and stir to incorporate.
Bring to a simmer then turn heat down and cook until sauce starts to thicken, sauce is done when it will coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, stir in the chopped basil, use immediately or keep warm over very low heat.
Preheat an iron skillet on the grill over very high direct heat, about 10 minutes.
Pour half of the butter in a shallow dish. Dredge each piece of fish in the butter to coat well. Season to taste with blackened seasoning and pat in with fingers.
Place in hot iron skillet and pour over a little butter, be careful of flare ups, and let cook for 2 minutes or until spice is crusted onto the fish. Flip fish and pour on a little butter and finish cooking, 2 to 4 minutes depending on thickness of the fish.
Remove and place on individual plates or on a serving platter.
Top with the cream sauce, charred corn, chopped basil and serve.