Will It Dishwasher?

Dave Lieberman
"I made beer can chicken last night," said Guy #1. "I rammed the chicken down onto an open can of beer and threw that sucker on the grill. Best chicken ever."

"No way, dude," said Guy #2. "I once made beef stew on the manifold while I drove from Des Moines to Minneapolis. Got there, used a dirty flannel shirt to get it off the manifold, and dug in. It was great."

"I can beat that," I said. "I make catfish in the dishwasher."

Raucous mocking and disbelief. Nobody makes food in the dishwasher. Can't be done.

Or... can it?

Dishwasher catfish came into existence after I'd been fishing in the mighty Mississippi in the muddy island flats near where Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa meet. I'd caught a couple of small catfish (not the monster "grandma" catfish that can gnaw your arm off) and when I got home I discovered the stove was broken. Couldn't get it to work. I was hungry, and there's not a lot of options for food purchase after 9 p.m. in rural Iowa. I debated going begging for food at the neighbor's house, but then my eyes lit on the dishwasher and the roll of foil I'd just bought at Fareway. Maybe... just maybe.

Dave Lieberman
That's right, it's all food.

I don't remember what I threw in that first packet. I'm pretty sure it contained lemon and garlic, maybe parsley. Cilantro was a foreign thing in small-town Iowa in 1998, and the only ginger went into cookies at Christmas. Whatever it was, I wrapped it up, threw it in the dishrack, and started the dishwasher (this was before Energy Star appliances were common). An hour and a half later, I opened it up, cracked open a Leinie's, and was rewarded with an amazing meal and a great "guy cooking" story.

Recently, I was talking to Willy about this dishwasher catfish, and he told me I had to put it up as a recipe (it'll be up a little bit later, as this week's Recipe of the Week). Since I was already going to be running the dishwasher, I decided to see what else would cook in the allotted time. It's the same amount of water, the same time spent drying. Why not, right? We invited some friends over (and incidentally, you know they're real friends when they drive down from Santa Monica to OC on Oscar night to be fed potentially bad food that doesn't show up until Best Actress).

And so the "Will It Dishwasher?" experiment was born.

Dave Lieberman
You see spread before you the ingredients...

Catfish: Perfectly flaky and with all the seasonings permeating the fish, this is truly the best way to make catfish, even better than deep-fried (deep sacrilege, I know--sorry, Arkansans and Mississippians!). It's almost worth using the dishwasher as the standard way to do this, though in this current house I think the dishwasher's dry cycle is a little bit short.

Verdict: WIN.

Dave Lieberman
The assembly is ready for entombment...

Dave Lieberman
Voilà! Perfection attained via conveniently-located non-stove appliance!

Potatoes: Not even close. Had I thought about the physics at work here (it takes 20 minutes of full-on boiling to make a whole potato cook through), I'd have known this was a non-starter from the word "go". It's not my fault, I was busy staring at girls during physics class in high school, and my science elective in college was acoustics.

Verdict: FAIL.

Dave Lieberman
The only difference between this and the "after" picture was that the butter melted. Seriously. Hard as rocks. I'm so bad at physics.

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