3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
16 slices firm-textured white bread, toasted
1 head Boston lettuce, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Put 3/4 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine the yellow and white cornmeals with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup flour. In a third shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Dredge the catfish fillets, one at a time, in the flour; shake off any excess. Dip the fillets in the egg mixture and coat them completely with the cornmeal mixture. Set the fillets on the baking sheet and refrigerate until the coating is dry, at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, combine the mayonnaise with the chipotles, honey and lemon juice; process until smooth. Transfer the mayonnaise to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 250°. Put 1/2 cup of the oil in a large, heavy skillet and heat until shimmering. Add 3 catfish fillets and fry over moderately high heat until golden and crisp on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Carefully turn the fillets, reduce the heat to moderately low and fry until golden, crisp and cooked through, about 6 minutes longer. Using a slotted spatula, gently transfer the fillets to paper towels to drain; transfer the fried fish to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and add another 1/2 cup of oil. Fry the remaining fish in 2 batches, changing the oil between batches. Season the fried catfish with salt.
Spread a generous tablespoon of the mayonnaise on half the toast slices. Top with the lettuce, fried catfish and sliced tomatoes. Cover with the remaining slices of toast. Serve the sandwiches immediately, passing any remaining mayonnaise at the table.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight.
This simple country fish fry will be well-balanced by a lively white wine. Consider a Chardonnay from Sonoma County or a Prosecco from Italy.