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Pan-Roasted Snapper with Pickled Slaw, Corn Maque Choux Purée

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Paul Terrebonne's winning Pan-Roasted Snapper dish.

This is the winning recipe, by Paul Terrebonne, presented at the “Almost Famous Chef” Competition, sponsored by Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino on Jan. 23 at the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.

Terrebonne is a student from the  Chef John Folse Culinary Institute of Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux, La., won the competition. His winning recipe as well as presentation style gave him the right to advance to Napa, Calif., where he could win up to $22,000 and an apprenticeship with a master chef.

His dish was Pan-Roasted Snapper with a Pickled Slaw, Corn Maque Choux Purée and Abita Beer Rice. Judges felt the dish was balanced in its flavor profile, all parts worked toward a cohesive whole, and it was straightforward in presentation. And, it tasted delicious — a very important factor as well!

Pan-Roasted Snapper with a Pickled Slaw, Corn Maque Choux Purée and Abita Beer Rice.

Pickled Vegetables

2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 ½ cups water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons cloves
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seed
1 mirliton
1/3 red onion
2 carrots
2 English cucumbers (skin only)
1 red bell pepper

Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and all the spices together in a medium pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain out all the spices and then cool down the pickling liquid. Cut all the vegetables into julienne slices and then place into the cooling liquid for 2 hours. (Makes 10 servings)

Corn Maque Choux Purée (Creamed Corn Sauce)

2 tablespoons butter
1 orange bell pepper (fine dice)
3 ½ cups corn (5 ears corn, kernels cut off the cobb)
½ yellow onion (fine dice)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Add butter, orange bell pepper, corn, onion, salt, sugar, and cayenne pepper to a medium pot and gently sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the milk and cream to the pot and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Purée the mixture while it is still hot (use blender or immersion blender) and then strain through a fine mesh strainer or china hat. (Makes 12 servings)

Abita Beer Rice

½ yellow onion (fine chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups Abita Amber beer
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups jasmine rice
2 lemons (juiced)
½ cup thinly sliced chives

Saute the onions, salt, and bay leaves in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the beer, stock, lemon juice, and rice. Bring it to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Then cover and cook for 17 minutes. Fold in the chives. Discard the bay leaves. (Makes 8 servings)

Pan-Roasted Snapper (or other firm-fleshed white fish)

8 fillets of red snapper (or any white flaky fish, skin off)
2 cups flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Kosher salt
Cajun seasoning

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large skillet on high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add oil until it covers the bottom of the skillet. Season both sides of the fish with salt and Cajun seasoning. Lightly flour the side of fish where skin was, if it is skinned (or flour the skin side if skin-on). Place the fish into an extremely hot pan, floured side down. Allow it to sear for 30 seconds and then place it into the oven for 5-6 minutes.

For serving: Put a one-serving mound of cooked Abita Amber rice in the center of the plate. Put the fish, skin-side up on top of the rice. Top the fish with a little more of the corn sauce, then put the pickled slaw on top. Spoon a little more of the corn sauce around the plate.

Makes 8 servings.

From Paul Terrebonne, winner of the regional “Almost Famous Chef Competition”, sponsored by Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino

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