January is the perfect time to visit Montgomery, Alabama, where countless celebrations around Martin Luther King’s birthday showcase the history of the civil rights leader’s home. At the city’s hottest restaurant, The A&P Social, Executive Chef Miguel Figueroa updates Southern classics like this blackened redfish, pioneered in the 1970s by the late Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme.
- 1½ cups lentils
- 1½ teaspoons ground sweet paprika
- 1½ teaspoons cayenne
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- Salt, to taste
- 4 redfish fillets, about 6 ounces each (can substitute black drum, snapper, catfish or grouper)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 20 cherry tomatoes, halved and dressed lightly with 1 sliced shallot, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Bring large pot of water to boil. Add lentils, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 15–20 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Mix together paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder and salt, and set aside. Combine onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, vinegar and wine in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, until liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons. Add cream, and reduce by half. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter 2 tablespoons at a time. Add salt, to taste. Leave at room temperature.
While cream reduces, dredge fillets in spice mixture. Heat large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and brush lightly with olive oil. When oil is almost smoking, add fish in single layer. Sear until crisp and almost black, about 2 minutes each side. Transfer pan to oven, and cook another 4–6 minutes (depending on the fillets’ thickness), until opaque all the way through. To serve, divide lentils among 4 plates, top each with one fish fillet, drizzle with butter sauce, and top with tomato salad. Serves 4.
Taylor Hardy, general manager and wine director at The A&P Social, suggests the beautifully crafted Clos Pissarra’s 2013 El Sol Blanc from Montsant, Spain. The 100% Garnatxa Blanca has an appealing essence of slate and clay, reflecting the terroir of the region, and its light acidity plays on the brightness of flavors like tomato.