I've never had a problem firing up the fryer for a weeknight meal, especially when catfish is involved. But even I realize that it can be a pain. On the other hand, this baked version from Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Kitchen couldn't be easier. After a dip in whisked eggs, the fillets are coated in a mixture of cracker crumbs and fresh pecans, before some melted butter is brushed on. Then all you have to do is bake them for 10 to 15 minutes—no pot of oil needed.
While the crust might not get as gloriously golden and crisp as some fried versions, baking does do a great job at evenly cooking the fish. Each fillet came out of the oven spot on. Plus, what it may be lacking in actual crispness, the crust makes up for in the flavor department. I especially loved the pecans—they lend a nice depth to each bite.