by Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff

Game eleven and the Patriots are playing their sixth undefeated team of the season. This is a big game for the Pats as playoff seeding goes, as the Bengals and Chargers are both facing lightweights.

On top of that it’s a Monday night game, so despite the game being in New Orleans go fire up your grill. Do you really want to watch the idiotic ESPN pregame show – No, no you don’t. Use that time more fruitfully.

What to eat?

blackened-catfishThis week on the Buffet Table we’re going with a New Orleans specialty – Blackened fish. This dish was invented by Chef Paul Prudhomme, and originally used a trash fish, redfish. Blackened Redfish became so popular that the former unwanted redfish approached extinction within a decade.

It’s unlikely that you’ll find redfish in New England, but there are plenty of substitutes. On the Buffet Table we prefer swordfish, it’s more of a steak type fish and stands up to direct grilling better than many fish that have to be filleted. Catfish also works very well, and is certainly more fitting to New Orleans than swordfish would be.

New Orleans style Blackened fish (serves 4)

Blackening seasoning – there are also many commercial varieties available
1 tbs sea salt
1 tbs ground black pepper
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs thyme
1 tbs paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 stick butter, melted
2 pounds fish, divided into 4 equal portions

Mix all of the seasoning ingredients together. Blot the fish dry with paper towels, removing as much surface moisture as possible. Brush the fish with the melted butter, and follow that by sprinkling the seasoning mixture evenly over both sides of the fish.

Heat your grill to high heat, at least 450 degrees. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and cook from about an other 4 to 6 minutes. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

These instructions are based on the fish being about as thick as your hand. If the fish is thicker, for example a swordfish steak could be much thicker, the cooking time will increase to usually about 6-8 minutes per side.

However you will have to watch and go by the fish flaking and not a set cooking time.

What to drink?

The Patriots won’t be playing New Orleans for another four years, so instead of highlighting just one beer from New Orleans, we’ll cover all of the beers from Louisiana that we can buy in New England. This consists of some beers from Abita Brewing. Dixie Brewing Company used to distribute their Dixie Lager and Dixie Blackened Voodoo, however they still have not recovered from Hurricane Katrina. They only brew for the local market under contract at other breweries.

Abita makes about a dozen beers. Three are distributed in New England in six pack form. Abita also ships a mixed twelve pack to New England, it has 2 each of 6 different beers.

First the beers you can find in six packs:

Abita Turbodog is a 5.6% ABV brown ale in the American Brown Ale style. An excellent drinking beer, and the Buffet Table pick as their best. It’s toffee, chocolate and roast flavors will go very well with the blackened fish.

Abita Purple Haze is a fruit beer. A 4.2% Raspberry Wheat. If you like fruited wheat beers then try this one out. Unlike some breweries that use artificial flavors, Abita adds actual raspberry puree after filtration. Because the yeast has been filtered out, the sugars in the raspberries will not ferment out. This leaves the beer with a sweeter, fuller taste.

Last but not least is Abita Jockamo IPA. It’s a pretty good American style IPA 6.5% ABV and just hoppy enough for the style. It’s a little raw, and not as polished as many of the IPAs from New England breweries.

You’ll find those three in the mix pack as well. Abita also includes:

Abita Amber – listed as a Munich Lager, a good beer that isn’t easily definable. It’s a bit too dark and robust to fit in the Munich Helles style. On the other hand it’s on the lighter side for Marzen (commonly called octoberfest) style beers. Stylistic accuracy doesn’t affect how a beer drinks, and this one is a winner. This was Abita’s first beer. At only 4.5% ABV you can drink plenty of these without trouble.

Abita Restoration Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale. Unlike many breweries where there is sort of a little brother/big brother similarity between the pale and and the IPA. Abita puts out 2 fairly different beers with the Jockamo IPA and Restoration Pale Ale. 5.0% ABV and only 20 IBU, Restoration is an easy drinking pale ale, closer in style to an English Pale Ale but still made with American hops.

The sixth beer in the pack changes with the seasons.

I’ve seen packs with Abita Satsuma Harvest Wit. This beer is in the Belgian White Ale style, think Hoegaarden or Blue Moon. It’s a spiced wheat beer at 5.1% ABV. Wit beers always use citrus zest, and this one uses the Satsuma. Satsuma is similar to a Mandarin Orange.

You may also see packs where the sixth beer is: Abita Christmas Ale. Always a dark ale, the recipe and style changes from year to year. Usually it is more along the lines of an Amber Ale than the heavier Winter Warmer.