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The leathery skin of a catfish demands a different approach to cleaning. By first skinning the catfish, you can then either fillet it easily or leave it whole — but gutted — for frying that way, which is a stellar preparation for creek cats in the 14- to 16-inch range. Use a cornmeal dredge for this, and serve with coleslaw, beans and beer. Whole smaller catfish can be smoked.

Reprinted with permission from Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish