Catfish Creole is an excellent alternative to fried catfish, and far better in my opinion. The catfish comes out tender and loaded with flavor after a half-hour simmer in the trinity (onion, celery, and bell pepper).
We’ve rated this recipe as MODERATE due to the amount of steps required. This recipe is on the borderline between easy and moderate though.
I like the trinity in this recipe cooked to mush before adding the catfish. To get it soft like that make sure your dutch oven is good and hot before you begin sauteing it and cook it for the maximum amount of time shown in the directions. Even longer, if you like.
To soften it up even more, after sauteing for about eight minutes, add a half-cup of chicken broth and cook that down till its almost dry again (called au sec in French), scraping up all the bits off the bottom of the pot.
The small shrimp added toward the end top this recipe off nicely. Although they aren’t mandatory, the fresh shrimp taste lightens the dish up.
Sometimes it can be hard to find smaller shrimp like these at the grocery store that aren’t already cooked. That’s fine. You can buy the pre-cooked ones and add them to the pot just before everything is finished to keep them from getting overcooked.
See all of our catfish recipes.
As with any other protein, its important to cook to the proper internal temperature as opposed to sticking to strict times. Catfish is done when it hits an internal temperature of 145 degrees. You’ll need an instant-read thermometer for this. If it hits temperature early, its time to stop cooking. If you need to cook it longer, cook it longer.
The biggest challenge with any kind of outdoor cooking is controlling temperature. Although we recommend certain quantities of charcoal when trying to cook at particular temperatures in a dutch oven, variables like wind speed and ambient temperature can have dramatic impacts on those temperature ranges.
Your thermometer will help you know when the meat is done. You don’t want to serve undercooked or overcooked catfish. It’s bad either way.
We recommend parboiled rice as a side. Parboiled rice is much easier to deal with at the campsite than regular rice, although we don’t think the texture is quite as good.
Dutch Oven Catfish Creole
- 2 tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion - diced
- 2 celery stalks - diced small
- 1 medium red bell pepper - diced small
- 1 tsp. Morton's Kosher Salt
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 10 oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tbs. dried parsley
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 5 green onions - sliced, one reserved for garnish
- 1/2 lb. small shrimp – shelled and deveined - 90-110 count – cooked or uncooked
Before You Leave Home
- Dice onions, celery, and bell peppers and place in a zip-top bag or resealable container.
- Add sugar, cayenne pepper, and dried herbs to a zip-top bag or resealable container.
At the Campsite
- Set up your dutch oven for frying hot, 15+ briquettes underneath for a 12-inch dutch oven.
- Heat vegetable oil until just smoking and add your onions, celery, and bell peppers. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Saute about 10-12 minutes, until the onions are translucent and everything is very soft. Add garlic and saute an additional 1 minute.
- Reduce the number of charcoal underneath to about 8 briquettes to maintain a simmer.
- Add your tomato sauce and Rotel tomatoes, along with your green onions (excluding the one reserved for garnish), bay leaf, cayenne, herbs, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Set your dutch oven up for baking at 375 degrees, 6 briquettes underneath, and 20 on top.
- Add your catfish fillets and spoon sauce over the top. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Add your shrimp to the top of the catfish fillets and spoon additional sauce over them. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until the catfish is done (145 degrees internal temperature).If you are using pre-cooked shrimp, put them in about 2 minutes before everything is done (bake catfish 28 minutes, then add shrimp and bake an additional 2 minutes).
- Serve with rice and garnish with the remaining green onions and lemon wedges on the side.