Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alligators & Oysters

Today’s post is the third and last on Chef John Folse’s definitive cookbook on the Cajun-Creole traditions of preparing fish and seafood, Hooks, Lies & Alibis.


Though raised in Louisiana, for me there is still an aura of the exotic in the recipes of John Folse and the people he works with in south Louisiana. His signature dishes, as well as those of other chefs in the area are brimming with the flavors of sac au lait, granulated garlic, artichoke hearts, mirlitons and Creole mustard, to name but a few example ingredients in the hundreds of recipes included in Hooks, Lies & Alibis. Not only are the recipes enticing, but everything about the collection of ingredients, the preparation and the land of south Louisiana is presented in page after page of high quality photographs compiled by photographers both local and from out of state. Pass over the history and recipes, the book still guarantees an hour or more of browsing through stunning photographs.


This last offering from the big fish cookbook includes two recipes chosen at random, recipes still untried in my kitchen, though I’m hoping that is a temporary condition. Pictures are included relating to the two recipes, but others have been added merely as a means of hinting at the book’s visual appeal.


OYSTERS BENSON

Comment: This recipe is from Rockefeller’s Restaurant in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and is the creation of chefs Thomas Bond, Lester Nicosia and Chris Letard. This is an ideal brunch dish and is also great when served for breakfast.


Ingredients:

18 fresh-shucked oysters

3 English muffins, halved and toasted

vegetable oil for deep-frying

6 slices Canadian bacon

3 cups seasoned yellow corn flour

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

granulated garlic to taste

¾ cup Blender Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)


Method:

In a cast iron pot or a home-style fryer such as a FryDaddy, heat oil to 360°F according to manufacturer’s directions. While oil is heating, pan-fry Canadian bacon until lightly browned, set aside and keep warm. When ready to cook, blend seasoned corn flour, Old Bay Seasoning and lemon pepper seasoning, stirring well to incorporate. Dredge oysters in seasoned corn flour mixture and deep-fry until crispy and floating, 2-3 minutes. While oysters are frying, toast English muffins and place 1 muffin half on each plate. Top with Canadian bacon slices and crispy fried oysters. In a small bowl, blend Creole mustard into Hollandaise and divide equally over each muffin half. Serve hot.


ALLIGATOR CHILI

Comment: In Louisiana, alligator is often used as a substitute for other meats, giving us great dishes such as alligator sauce piquant, alligator spaghetti, fried alligator tail and alligator sausage. Here is an old camp recipe for alligator chili that I love.


Ingredients:

3 pounds alligator meat, diced

½ cup vegetable oil

2 cups diced onions

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced bell peppers

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons diced jalapeño peppers

1 (16 ounce) can pinto beans

3 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 cup fish stock (see recipe)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

salt and cracked black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste


Method:

In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add alligator and sauté 20 minutes to render juices. Add onions, celery, bell peppers, minced garlic and jalapeño peppers and sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted, stirring occasionally. Add pinto beans, tomato sauce and stock, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a low boil then reduce to simmer. Stir in chili powder and cumin and cook approximately 1 hour or until alligator is tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Ladle into soup bowls or mugs and serve hot with fresh cornbread.


Baccalá Amalfi Style Salted Cod


Though a type of dolphin, Mahi Mahi should not be confused with the mammal.

2 comments:

  1. I'd like to try the Oyster Benson, but as for the salt Cod.....no, never mind. Ben's Dad use to love Finnin Haddie which was salt cod topped with a poached egg and a sauce on top. It's smell told me never to try it. One day I will try making the Oyster Benson. A great review of the Big Book #2.

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  2. So when you do start trying out the recipes in the book, give a shout out with some warning. Easily seems worth the hour and a half flight over there. Not quite jetting to Paris for an evening meal but a domestic culinary trip well worth it. But anyone can do it in their own home and feel like they made a trip to exotic south Louisiana. Deeelicious.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America