Mark Leslie's Beer Marinated Catfish with Chipotle Sauce

Here is smoky and slightly spicy twist on fried catfish. Instead of coating the catfish in a thick beer batter, I marinate the raw pieces in beer before seasoning them and lightly dredging them in flour to fry. Less batter and a more heart healthy oil like sunflower oil, reduces some of the traditional calories, while chipotle peppers (smoked-dried jalapenõ peppers), cumin and fresh cilantro gives this a South-of-the-Border twist just in time for the weekend and all of your "Cinco de Mayo" celebrations. Olé, y'all~

Beer-Marinated Catfish with Chipotle Sauce

For the Catfish:

4 (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds) US farm-raised catfish filets, cut crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces.

1 (12-ounce) bottle of Mexican light beer, use your favorite brand

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup flour, all-purpose

Sunflower oil to fry in (vegetable or peanut oil may be substituted)

For the Chipotle Sauce:

2 dried Chipotle peppers

1 (15-ounce) jar of mayonnaise, use your favorite brand

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the catfish pieces and beer in a medium bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator, allowing the catfish to marinate in the beer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, no more.

Meanwhile make the sauce by placing the dried chipotle peppers in a small dry skillet. Turn the heat on to medium-high under the dry skillet and toast the dried peppers until they plump a little and start to lightly brown. Remove the skillet from the heat, add water to cover the peppers, cover and let soak for 15 to 20 minutes until the peppers are soft.

Once soft, drain off and discard the water. Remove and discard the stems from the peppers. Place the peppers in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add half of the jar of mayonnaise, and all of the cumin, lime juice and cilantro. Blend until the peppers are finely chopped and all is well blended. Pour the mixture into a small bowl, add the remaining jarred mayonnaise and mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the catfish from the refrigerator, discard the beer and paper towel dry the catfish. Season both sides of each catfish piece with salt and black pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish and coat the catfish pieces with the flour, shaking off any excess flour. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, place a 1/4-inch oil. When the oil is hot, add the catfish pieces in batches of 6 to 8 pieces, skin side down, and fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook the second side another 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown and cooked throughout. Remove to drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining catfish pieces. Serve warm with the chilled chipotle sauce.

Serves 4.