The cuisine of Arkansas is well known for its traditional country cooking that includes grits and catfish.

The Natural State was once known as the Land of Opportunity. While the nickname has changed, the motto of regnat populas (the people rule) has remained the same.  The name came from the Osage language.

Arkansas was admitted into the union on June 15, 1836, becoming the 25th state. In 1836 the population was stated to be 60,000. In the 2020 census the population of the state is 3.01 million. The capital and most populated city is Little Rock. About 200,000 people reside there.

The state offers a diverse geography from mountains to lowlands spanning 53,179 square miles, of which about 2 percent is water. The highest elevation in Arkansas tops out at 2,753 feet.  

Grits for the family

The grocery list for grits includes milk, butter, cream, grits, salt and pepper.

Grab a medium saucepan and place 11/2 cups of: water  and milk in it along with 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4  cup of cream. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and add 1/2 cups of grits. Simmer for about 20 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed as grits are very thick. Stir in another 1/4 cup of cream. When the consistency is as desired, serve them up with butter, salt, pepper, cheese or gravy.

Southern fried catfish

The grocery list here includes catfish, buttermilk, ranch seasoning, salt, garlic powder, ground white pepper, paprika, hot sauce, oil, yellow cornmeal, all-purpose flour and dried minced onions.

Once the catfish are caught or bought, grab a large bowl and add one cup of whole buttermilk, two tablespoons of ranch seasoning, a teaspoon of: salt, garlic powder, hot sauce and ground white pepper. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of paprika and mix together until ingredients are fully combined. Then add the catfish fillets (about 11/2 pounds worth), cover the bowl, place in the refrigerator and let it marinate at least two hours.

This is a good time to prep the catfish flour dredge. Take a pie plate and add a cup of yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 11/2 cup of salt, a teaspoon of: dried minced onion, ground white pepper and paprika. Mix well. 

  When the marinade time is nearing the end, get the oil heated. Some use a fryer, others a deep cast iron skillet, either way, fill it to a depth good enough to cook the fillets but safe enough to keep the oil where it belongs. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, it is ready for business.

Dredge the catfish fillet in the cornmeal mix until fully coated. Very carefully place a fillet or two (depending on room) into the oil. In about five minutes the fish should look golden brown and delicious. Click some tongs, clamp down on the cooked fillets and get ready for an evening of good grub.

To help remove the grease, place the fillets on a wire rack.