Blackened Fish with Smoky Braised Collards and Polenta

A complete meal in a bowl, inspired by classic Southern flavors.

Blackened Fish with Smoky Braised Collards and Polenta

Vanns Blackened Seasoning is a shortcut to great flavor, and this fish generously coated with the spice mix couldn't be easier to make. To make this a full meal, braise some collards (with the help of Vanns Smoked Spanish Paprika) and simmer some polenta, for a complete, warming bowl of soul that won't take you more than two hours to put together.

Spices used in this recipe

Paprika, Smoked Spanish
Salt, Kosher
Blackened Seasoning



  • 1 ½ lbs. collard greens, about 2 bunches
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Vanns Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Vanns Kosher Salt


  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup stone ground polenta or grits
  • Vanns Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Blackened Fish:

  • 6 filets fish -- tilapia, catfish, or even salmon would work well with this recipe
  • 12 tsp. Vanns Blackened Seasoning
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil


  1. First, make the collards. Trim the woody stems from the bottoms of the collard leaves, then stack and roll them up. Slice into 1-inch ribbons, and clean thoroughly in a colander.
  2. Put oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add sliced onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent and softened, 5-10 minutes. Add sliced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Stir in smoked Spanish paprika and pour stock over mixture, stirring to evenly combine. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the collards. It might take you two rounds to fit them all in there, but as they heat up in the stock, they will begin to wilt and make more space. Push the collards down with a spoon to submerge them under the liquid and return to a gentle simmer. Cook until greens and stems are meltingly tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season to taste with salt.
  4. While collards braise, make the polenta. Put the water in a large pot and heat over medium-high heat. Stream polenta into the water as it’s heating, whisking to avoid any clumps. Bring polenta-water mixture to a boil and stir frequently until the polenta thickens to the point where it begins to spit. Turn the heat down to low immediately and cook for 50 minutes, until polenta thickens and pulls away from the side of the pot, stirring frequently, taking care to scrape the bottom and corners of the pot to prevent scorching.
  5. Whisk in butter and season to taste with salt.
  6. About 15 minutes before the polenta and collards are done, make the fish. Pat filets dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with 1 tsp. Vanns Blackened Seasoning, using your hands to press the seasoning into the fish to coat liberally. 
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. When vegetable oil is almost smoking, add filets. For thinner fish, such as tilapia and catfish, cook for 2-3 minutes on either side, or until internal temperature reaches 145°F. For thicker filets, such as salmon, cook 4-5 minutes per side.
  8. Scoop polenta into serving bowls, smoothing top with the back of a spoon. Place filets on top of polenta off to one side, and spoon collards onto the other side, making sure to get some of the braising liquid as well as the greens. Serve with Tabasco or other hot sauce if desired. 

Serves 6.

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