Culinary historian and living history interpreter Michael Twitty visited Purdue University to speak on foodways of enslaved Africans and African Americans. Free and open to the public, this event was sponsored the Purdue University Black Cultural Center as part of its observation of Black History Month.
Twitty describes himself as a “historic interpreter interested in African, African American, African Diaspora, Southern, and Jewish foodways.” He also is a food blogger who runs Afroculinaria. The blog “addresses food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it,” the blog’s website states.
“Mr. Twitty is an expert in not only colonial and antebellum cooking but also in knowledge of relevant heritage breed livestock, and wild flora and fauna used by enslaved Africans and their descendants.”
Pecan Crusted Catfish
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole milk
1 large egg
1½ Tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
4 8-ounce catfish fillets
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
¼ cup vegetable oil
Lemon slices, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place flour in a shallow bowl or dish
Whisk together the milk and eggs in shallow bowl to blend.
Combine the pecans and Panko in a shallow bowl or dish
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Stir well to combine and season the catfish fillets to taste
Dredge the catfish fillets in flour to coat lightly, shaking off excess
Dip into milk mixture
Coat both sides of fish with pecan mixture.
Refrigerate fish fillets for at least fifteen minutes before cooking
Heat the oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat
Add fish fillets to pan, presentation side down
Cook until nuts begin to brown, about two minutes
With a fish spatula, turn fish over in the sauté pan and place in the preheated oven
Cook until fish is opaque in the center, about eight to ten minutes.
Transfer catfish fillets to plates
Garnish with lemon slices and serve immediately
Black-eyed Pea Fritters
(Makes 20 Servings)
3½ cups cooked black-eyed peas (drained thoroughly)
2 cups fine diced yellow onion
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons water
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup fine ground cornmeal
Vegetable oil, for frying
Purée peas and onion in a food processor until as smooth as possible
Blend in egg, cayenne, salt, and pepper
With motor running, add three tablespoons water and blend until smooth and fluffy
Add remaining water if necessary to form a batter just thin enough to drop from a spoon
Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for one hour
Preheat the oven to 200° F
Remove the batter from the refrigerator
Add the bell pepper and cornmeal
Beat with a wooden spoon for two minutes.
In a large sauté pan over high heat, heat the vegetable oil until hot but not smoking
Lower the temperature medium high
In batches, spoon the batter into the oil, one tablespoon at a time
Fry until golden brown on each side, about two minutes
If necessary, adjust the temperature to ensure that the fritters do not cook too quickly
Transfer the fritters to a paper towel–lined plate and allow them to drain
Transfer the drained fritters to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm