Catfish farms have surrounded Dallas County’s Fran Pearce since 1968 when her father converted five public ponds into some of the state’s first commercial catfish ponds.
As time progressed, Pearce said she found herself cooking the whiskered swimmer more often. While Southerners are known for fried fish and hush puppies, Pearce said she likes to think outside the pond.
“The recipe I use most often for entertaining is Catfish Parmesan,” Pearce said. “It’s healthy and easy to prepare ahead of time. A friend gave me a recipe for a wonderful Vidalia Onion Casserole, too, and I’ve found it goes great with catfish.”
Pearce says she enjoys cooking for her husband, David, their two sons, daughter-in-law and six grandchildren.
“I have an apron for each of my grandchildren,” she said. “It’s a big deal for them to gather around the island in the kitchen and pretend they’re cooking.”
Her knack for entertaining comes honest.
“My mother was quite the hostess,” Pearce recalled. “Her tip was to do as much as you can ahead of time so you can enjoy time with guests.”
The following recipes for U.S. farm-raised catfish and sides come from the kitchens of Pearce and other Alabama catfish farmers. They’re sure to please crowds and still allow time for the cook to enjoy the company of friends. For additional recipes, visit USCatfish.com.