I created this version of the classic sauce-piquante recipe based upon an almost completely unreadable recipe scrawled down by my friend Dan Comeaux, who was a tad inebriated at the time; he cooked it at my place one New Year's, and ha already had a pint of Jack Daniel's when I asked him to write it down. Looking at it later was almost like looking at hieroglyphics. I dimly remembered what he did, experimented upon and refined it. Comeaux will undoubtedly complain that I got it wrong ("Chuck can cook all right ... but not as good as me!" he's fond of saying) ... but I think it's mighty tasty.
After that, find a recipe created by Joe Cahn, formerly of the New Orleans School of Cooking.
If you have alligator or turtle (or whatever) bones, boil them with a quartered carrot, quartered onion, celery with tops and some peppercorns to make a stock. Skim off fat if any and reserve 1 to 1-1/2 cups. Or, you can use a prepared or canned beef or chicken broth, but whatever you do, don't just use plain water.
- 2 - 3 lbs. alligator meat, OR
- (turtle meat or rabbit or froglegs or pork or squirrel or raccoon or any good game meat -- or shrimp or chicken will work nicely as well)
- 3 onions
- 3 bell peppers
- 5 ribs celery
- 3 - 5 cloves garlic (or one head Creole hot garlic)
- 2 fresh mild green chiles (Anaheim or New Mexico)
- 1 - 2 jalapeno or serrano or habanero chiles (optional)
- Oil for sauteing
- 3 tablespoons oil (for the roux)
- 3 tablespoons flour (for the roux)
- 1 can crushed tomatoes and 2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes (if unavailable, use regular stewed tomatoes and add more hot chiles)
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups stock or broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, OR
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
- 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, OR
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Salt to taste
Dice or cube the meat, then saute in a little oil until browned.
Chop and saute one of the onions and one of the bell peppers, and saute until tender. Pure these in a blender and set aside.
Saute the remaining onion and bell pepper with the chiles, celery and garlic.
Make a medium, peanut-butter colored roux with the oil and flour, adding a little more oil or flour until you have the right consistency. Add the roux to the sauted vegetables to stop the cooking process, and stir well. Make sure the roux does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire to the sauteed vegetables. Add the onion/bell pepper pure and stir. Season with the Creole seasoning and salt to taste. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, making sure it doesn't stick.
Add the meat, rosemary and thyme and cook for 30 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. If you're using shrimp or seafood, cook for 20 minutes, then add shrimp for the last 10 minutes and cook.
Serve over rice with French bread and a nice zesty red wine like Zinfandel or Merlot. Yum!
ALLIGATOR SAUCE PIQUANTE #2
Alligator meat needs to be very free of fat because the fat tends to give the meat that very strong, gamey taste, and becomes rancid rapidly. I have found that washing the meat well in cold water helps eliminate some of the very strong taste.
- 1/2 pound lard
- 2 pounds alligator meat, defatted and cubed
- Creole seasoning
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups celery, sliced
- 2 cups bell peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
- 1 29 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 29 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 - 3 teaspoon dark brown sugar to taste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 - 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon sweet basil
- 1 - 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 - 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Season the meat well with Creole seasoning, or another blend of your choosing, and brown in lard. Remove the meat and make a roux using the fat and an equal amount (about a cup) of flour, cooking it to a medium brown color. Add onions, celery, and bell pepper. When pot is cooled somewhat, add garlic and saute vegetables over medium heat until tender. Add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and enough brown sugar to cut the acid taste of the tomatoes. Season to your own taste and simmer until thickened and meat is tender. Serve over rice.
Yield: 8-10 servings.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)