Fried Hot Fish and Spaghetti (Church Spaghetti)

Chef: Roscoe Hall | Writer: Catherine Jessee | Food Stylist: Lauren Sharp Gavin  |  Seafood: Fish

The glory of the fish fry extends from midwestern “Fish Fry Fridays” and down throughout the southeast, where potlucks of fried fish and spaghetti are well known among church crowds. This recipe welcomes you to take these traditional potluck foods: fried fish and baked spaghetti, and consider them served as a composed dish. The spaghetti is traditional, tried, and true: a medley of noodles, beef, pork, fresh garlic, onions and basil, baked and served with golden, melted cheddar overtop. The fish is hot—hot, hot—and tossed with a hot mix: paprika, cayenne, and brown sugar.

If you have ever been lucky enough to behold baked spaghetti and fried catfish on the same paper plate, welcoming the flavors to intermingle, then you’ll love this recipe; inspired by Nashville Hot Chicken, Roscoe took a different route and bumped up the heat level a bit, incorporating Hot Fish, which he says deserves its own moment in the spotlight. Without further ado, in Roscoe’s words, “let's have some fun.”

What you need

Fried Hot Fish

1-2 lbs Gulf Fish Filets (Grouper or Amerberjack)

2 TBSP Mustard

3 TBSP Hot Sauce

2 Cups Cornmeal

1 TBSP Black Pepper

1 1/2 Cups Oil for frying (vegetable, grapeseed, or canola)

Church Spaghetti

3 TBSP Olive Oil

1 Yellow Onion, chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped

1/2 lb Ground Beef

1/2 lb Ground Pork

1 TBSP Kosher Salt

1 TBSP Pepper

2 TBSP Garlic, minced

1 Can Diced Tomatoes Drained

3 TBSP Flat Leaf Parsley

1 Cup Water

12 oz Spaghetti

1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Hot Mix

1/2 Cup Hot Grease

2 TBSP Cayenne

2 TBSP Smoked Paprika

3 TBSP Brown Sugar

1/2 TBSP Garlic Powder & Onion Powder


Fried Fish

Preheat the oven to 375°F.


Line a sheet tray with a cooling rack or parchment paper and prepare three large bowls (one for mustard mix, one for cornmeal mix, and the third one for Hot Mix).


In one large bowl add mustard, hot sauce and fish. Coat completely. In the other bowl whisk together cornmeal, salt, and pepper.


Dredge the fish, transferring it from the mustard mix and into the cornmeal mix. Let coated fish rest on the lined sheet tray and let sit.


Meanwhile, add oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. When it sizzles when a pinch of cornmeal is dropped into it, it’s ready.


Gently add fish to oil and cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown on each side and cooked-through, returning it to a fresh lined baking sheet when done.


Add 1/2 cup hot grease from the skillet to the Hot Mix, and whisk until well-mixed. Carefully spoon Hot Mix over the cooked fish filets.


Place tray of hot fish in the preheated oven and immediately turn it off, letting the residual heat keep the filets warm and crispy, until you’re ready to eat it up. Serve alone or with spaghetti.

Church Spaghetti

Preheat the oven to 350°F.


Cook spaghetti as usual. Drain and rinse noodles until cold and set aside.


In a saute pan, add oil over medium heat and cook onions and peppers until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Now add garlic, tomatoes, and water and cook for 5–10 minutes. Add pinches of salt and pepper, stir to incorporate, and transfer to a heat proof bowl. Add beef and pork to the still-hot saute pan, season with salt & pepper and cook until the fat and liquid has absorbed back into meat.


Add the tomato mixture back into the meat and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add noodles to your mixture, chopped parsley, and basil, and stir to mix.


Pour spaghetti into a casserole dish and top with cheese.


Place the dish in the preheated oven and cook until the cheese is melted and golden. Serve warm, separately, or with hot fish filets.

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