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Uncle Joe Burroughs’ Whole Fried Catfish at the Roadhouse

Wonderful taste of the American South on Ann Arbor’s westside

by Ari Weinzweig

The other night there were two guys sitting up at the chef’s counter at the Roadhouse. They were bigger guys in good shape, so I had them down for ordering a couple of big steaks, or maybe a big bowl of mac and cheese. But swinging back through the dining room about twenty minutes later, I was surprised to see that:

  1. They’d both ordered the same thing
  2. There were eating with great passion and enthusiasm
  3. They were both working away at a lovely-looking whole catfish.

Fried catfish has, flat out, been one of the steadiest best sellers on the core menu at the Roadhouse since we opened. It has a lot of really loyal fans. We source whole catfish from Yazoo City, Mississippi, roll it in Anson Mills organic cornmeal (a blend of five varietals from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries) and then deep fry it ’til it’s golden brown. We sprinkle on a pinch of garlic salt—my Alabama-born-and-raised friend Peggy Markel’s dad’s (he’s Uncle Joe Burroughs) secret ingredient. Serve it up with long-cooked collard greens and Anson Mills organic old-school grits.

It’s a pretty darned good-looking platter. This is a whole fish—not just flat filets, so you need to eat it right off the bone. (We can help you if you’re not used to eating whole fish—it’s not hard!) The fish comes out to the table with the “kitty’s” crisp, cornmeal crusted-tail curled, and we serve it along with sides of Roadhouse coleslaw, homemade tartar sauce, and hot sauce. The crunch of the fried cornmeal, the tender sweet earthiness of the catfish, complemented by the long-cooked greens and the crunch of the slaw. Add a good beer or a glass of iced tea, and it’s a great dinner for pretty much any occasion!

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