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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Smoked Fish With Whiskers

Editor's note: Barbecued Adventures will be relaunched in early 2014 with new posts about barbecue, pitmasters and related travel. This post dates back to Jan. 11, 2011. Thank you for reading and please come back often.

Before saying anything further, while visiting the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, we should have eaten at the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, where chef Tim Love and his team are renowned for an inventive menu that includes steaks, lamb, seafood and wild game, including deer, kangaroo, quail and wild boar.

Next trip.

A few years back, Love appeared on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and defeated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in a “Chile battle.” He has been extensively written about in several national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator, Food & Wine, Southern Living, Esquire and New York Times.

I’m sure my review of the Lonesome Dove would have been glowing. We were impressed when we walked in the door. Call me a fool, but in all honesty, it was only the third night of our vacation and I didn’t want to blow the budget. So we went back around the corner to Riscky’s BBQ and Steakhouse, 120 E. Exchange Ave.

As the story goes, in 1911 Polish immigrant Joe Riscky came to Fort Worth and went to work at Armour Packing Company in the Stock Yards for $9 a week. A year later, he married fellow immigrant Mary Bunkervitch, and in 1927 they opened a grocery a few miles from the Stock Yards. They began offering lunches featuring their homemade barbeque, which led to a business that today operates six barbecue restaurants, Trailboss Burgers and the steakhouse where we would eat this chilly night.

Other than the nearby table of holiday revelers, it was a quiet night at Riscky’s. We thought about ordering the Calf Fries (think deep-fried Mountain Oyster pieces) and their trademark cabbage soup, before settling on their “famous” pork spare ribs for Donna and smoked catfish fillets for me.

Sadly, no amount of “Riscky Dust” could save the ribs. We were later told that they had been cooked elsewhere at another location, which explained the re-cooked aftertaste. However, the smoked catfish was a whole other story.

One might wonder why I didn’t opt for beef brisket or a thick steak, but I was drawn to trying something I didn’t expect to find in Texas. Here in Indiana, deep fried catfish is an art if really done well, and it doesn’t seem to be in the same culinary category as whitefish and salmon, which you’ll find smoked and served in all the best Jewish delis.

You'll find numerous smoked catfish recipes online but Riscky’s offering was unique. The way it is served, it stands alone. It is not blended with a sauce and no liquid smoke could have been used. They simply served it naked with a honey mustard dipping sauce, which provided a nice accent.

Eating the catfish was a simple, delicate pleasure.

A friend once told me that a chicken is delicious “before it is born and after it’s dead.” In our next entry, you’ll join us for some wonderful huevos rancheros.

Location we visited:
Riscky's BBQ and Steakhouse
120 E. Exchange Ave.
Fort Worth, Texas

Riscky's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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