At Home With Chef Todd Richards

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Fried Catfish with Hot Sauce Recipe by Todd Richards
Chef Todd Richards shares his mom's Fried Catfish with Hot Sauce recipe
Chef Todd Richards shares about his life and his new book, Soul

Celebrating Adventurous Culinary Traditions

Chef Todd Richards has racked up an impressive list of awards and accolades (including two James Beard Award nominations) for his cuisine, an impressive accomplishment considering that he’s a self-taught cook. His food has contributed to the success of many Atlanta restaurants, including Villa Christina and White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails. In 2016, he opened Richards’ Southern Fried in Krog Street Market. And now, Richards adds the title of author to his repertoire.

Self-taught chef, Todd Richards of Richards’ Southern Fried in Krog Street Market talks about his recipe book, Soul

His debut cookbook, “SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in
150 Recipes,” will be released on May 22.

As is common with many chefs, Richards credits his love of food to his grandma’s and mom’s home cooking. He grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where he was raised in a large, loving family who regularly gathered for meals steeped in America’s soul food tradition. “My dad’s family is from New Orleans and mom’s is from the Carolinas,” he explains. “So we ate Creole-based food that was blended with soul-based food. We were adventurous eaters—my mom was the most adventurous of all,” he says. He recalls times when his mother would stop for Chinese takeout and bring home ramen broth. “She’d have a pot of collard greens on the stove and would add that to the ramen. Some call it fusion cuisine, but as a kid I just thought it was a mash-up of all different delicious things.” And he has built on that adventurous tradition, creating his own out-of-the-box version of soul cuisine.

He remembers Saturday mornings, when he and his cousins visited his grandma’s house and watched chefs on cooking shows, like Jacques Pépin or Martin Yan on “Yan Can Cook” on PBS as they waited for her to make breakfast. “There’s been a food culture in my family for a long time. But I look back and see a progression in my grandma’s cooking. It changed from rich, heavy food to lighter food with more nuanced flavors, influenced by those cooking shows.”

Now, in his own home in Grant Park, Richards enjoys sharing the kitchen with his wife, Melissa, whom he married in 2016. “It’s a great balance of cooking at home with her. All our meals showcase the ingredients and how fresh they are. We go to the farmers market or grow vegetables in our own garden. But if you ask me what I cook most, it’s on the smoker or the grill.”

“Melissa designed our kitchen,” he says proudly. “It’s one of the easiest kitchens to work in ever! Everything has its place. It’s important to plan how you’re going to clean up. We cook with cast-iron pans a lot. So there’s an island in front of the stove that has a deep double sink. We take the pan directly to the sink when we’re done. Cast iron isn’t the lightest thing in the world to carry around the kitchen, so that makes it simple.”

Fried Catfish with Hot Sauce Recipe by Todd Richards
Chef Todd Richard’s Fried Catfish with Hot Sauce recipe from his book “SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes”

Mom’s Fried Catfish with Hot Sauce Recipe
My  mom  would  make  this  on  Fridays  for  my  dad.  When  my  grandpa  came over  for  dinner,  he  would  get  the  catfish  tail—crispy  like  a  potato  chip.  To  me,  that  was  the  prized  possession  of  this  delicious  catfish  recipe.  It  takes  me  back  home.”  

Ingredients  for  Catfish
• 2  cups  whole  buttermilk
• 2  tablespoons  Worcestershire  sauce
• 1  tablespoon  hot  sauce  (recipe  right,  plus  more  for  serving)
• ¼  teaspoon  granulated  garlic
• ¼  teaspoon  granulated  onion
• 4  teaspoons  kosher  salt
• 1  ½  teaspoon  freshly  ground  black  pepper
• 1  ½  pound  catfish  fillets, cut into  2-inch pieces
• 2  cups  yellow  cornmeal
• ¼  teaspoon  cayenne  pepper
• 4  cups  vegetable  oil

Ingredients  for  Hot  Sauce
• 2  teaspoons  blended  olive  oil
• 3  stemmed,  coarsely  chopped  red Fresno  chiles
• 1  stemmed,  coarsely  chopped jalapeño  chile
• ½  small  yellow  onion,  diced
• 3  garlic  cloves
• ½  cup  apple  cider  vinegar
• ¼  cup  red  wine  vinegar
• ½  teaspoon  red  pepper  flakes
• 1  tablespoon  kosher  salt

Directions  for  Catfish
•  Combine  the  first  5  ingredients with 1 teaspoon salt and 1  teaspoon  pepper in  a  Ziploc  bag. Add  catfish  pieces, seal and  refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
•  Whisk  cornmeal,  cayenne, 3  teaspoons  salt  and  ½  teaspoon  black pepper in a pie pan.
•  Heat  the  oil  in  a  skillet over medium  heat.
•  Remove  catfish  from  buttermilk  mixture, dredge  in  the  cornmeal.  Let stand  5 minutes.
•  Fry  catfish  (large  pieces  first)  in batches  until  golden  brown—5  to  7  minutes  per  side.  Drain  on  a  plate  lined  with  paper  towels.  
•  Serve with  hot  sauce.

Directions  for  Hot  Sauce
•  Heat  oil  over  medium  heat. Add  chiles,  onion  and  garlic, stirring  often  until tender, 6  to  8  minutes.
•  Add  vinegars  and  red  pepper flakes. Bring  to  a  boil,  cover, reduce  heat  and  simmer  until tender,  about  20  minutes.
•  Add  salt, remove  from  heat and  let  stand  20  minutes.  
•  Remove  the  center  cap  from  the  blender  lid to  prevent  overflowing  (be  wary  of  inhaling  vapors),  process  the mixture  until  smooth


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