This recipe takes me back thirty-five years to my childhood in northern Wisconsin. My grandmother would fry up 60 fresh-caught bluegill fillets in a large black cast-iron skillet for the family. There is no better home-cooked meal – period. I hope you enjoy this special recipe as much as I do.
30 bluegill fillets, cleaned and rinsed in cold water
1 quart vegetable oil
8 oz. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
Preheat a 5-quart cast-iron dutch oven over medium-high with the vegetable oil. The oil will be ready for deep-frying when a drop of water sizzles on contact.
Place the buttermilk and egg in a wide, shallow baking dish. Whisk thoroughly. Place the bluegill fillets in the dish and coat evenly.
Prepare a two-quart plastic food storage bag with the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Shake well.
Shake off the fillets and add to the bag, about eight at a time. Coat evenly and transfer to the dutch oven; frying in batches. Deep fry until just lightly golden-brown. Ensure that the bluegill fillets are not overcooked. Using a Chinese spider strainer, remove and transfer to a heated platter with paper towel to absorb the excess frying oil.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.