Ten years ago this month, my younger sister married a foreigner…sort of. To be exact, she married a Canadian from Nova Scotia. The reason I say, “sort of” is that we can trace at least one branch of our family tree back to the time when the French people who had settled in Nova Scotia, the Acadians, were expelled from that country by the British. A large group of them made their way down to Louisiana where they settled, and eventually were called, “Cajuns.”
My sister visits several times a year. One of those visits is usually Easter. She came home to Louisiana a few years ago for Easter to christen her first born daughter, and brought a group of Canadians (and a Brit) with her. Since then, it has been an annual Easter tradition. Every year we have a different group of visitors…sometimes we have repeat visitors, but almost always someone new joins the group. Our friend Joe, who is British and in the navy once had to ask (and was granted) permission from the Queen to attend our festivities.
The group usually spends a couple of days in New Orleans before traveling down to Plaquemine, where my mother lives, for the weekend. Saturday is usually a crawfish boil which is sometimes held on our cousin’s houseboat while traveling down the bayou.
This year was a special treat because my friend Helana Brigman of Clearly Delicious Food Blog and her friend attended the crawfish boil. We had a great time teaching the children how to lull the crawfish to sleep!
As an appetizer I made our favorite Essential Roasted Tomatillo Salsa from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Cookbook. Everyone wanted the recipe so I have included a link to it.
Easter Sunday always starts with Easter Sunday Mass at the Cathedral on the Bayou (St. John the Evangelist Church in Plaquemine) and then culminates in an Easter picnic and Easter Egg Hunt.
My Loup Garou usually cooks a great Louisiana dish as the main course. The 2013 main course was Alligator Sauce Piquant. A sauce piquant (also spelled piquante) is a spicy tomato based stew. Some of you may know of the History Channel series, “Swamp People.” The Canadians (and some of the Americans) who visited were quite enamored with the idea of eating alligator because they had seen the television show. I am told that the alligator we used was killed by Troy Landry himself! Ever since Easter, we have had requests for the recipe. Finally I am posting it!
This is a recipe that we perfected with chicken before we started using alligator, so if you do not have access to alligator, you may substitute boneless skinless chicken.
- 3-5 lbs alligator meat cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 10 oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilies (such as Ro-Tel)
- 1 16 ounce can of chopped whole tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 Tablespoons of garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 1/2 cup pureed carrots
- 1 tablespoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 2 bay leaves
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup sherry
- Season alligator with salt, black pepper and cayenne.
- In a heavy cast iron skillet heat oil over medium high heat.
- Brown the alligator meat in the oil until golden brown.
- Remove the browned alligator from the pot and set aside.
- Add flour to the oil carefully.
- Stir the flour and oil (roux) until the roux is brown.
- Add tomato paste and continue to stir, 5-6 minutes or until the sauce is a nice brown color
- Add onions, celery, bell pepper, carrots and garlic.
- Saute 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.
- Add all of the tomatoes and stir into the wilted vegetables.
- Add chicken stock and stir until the mixture is well blended.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer.
- Add alligator and blend into sauce
- Add oregano, bay leaves and Worcestershire.
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, then add lemon juice.
- Simmer for 45 minutes or until alligator is tender.
- Just before serving add sherry, shallots and parsley.
- Serve over rice in bowls.