Catfish and Grits

While researching this week's review of Cedar Creek Café, I tried the restaurant's extensive breakfast menu. The Southern-style "biscuits Benedict" featuring poached eggs and fresh hot biscuits were an interesting spin on morning food. But my favorite breakfast was the fried catfish and cheese grits.

Like shrimp and grits, catfish and grits is an old Southern combo traditionally eaten for breakfast with crispy bacon -- the eggs are a modern addition. In 1985, New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne wrote an article about Chef Bill Neal's upscale shrimp and grits that sparked an explosion of "New Southern Cooking." Since then, shrimp and grits and catfish and grits have been jazzed up, jammed on, and remixed by countless Southern cooks.

One of my favorite New Orleans chefs, Frank Brigtsen, calls his version of catfish and grits "Mustard & Cornmeal Fried Catfish with Stone Ground Jalapeno Cheese Grits & Creole Sauce." He served the dish to a group of personal chefs last summer, and Toni from Austin posted his recipe on her blog.

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