Call of the Wild

Louisiana is called the Sportsman’s Paradise for good reason. We have an abundance of native game and seafood for hunters and anglers (of both sexes) to pursue. But even if you don’t hunt or fish, you can eat like you do. Gulf fish, shrimp, crabs and oysters are available in restaurants and fish markets. Game is not quite so easy to come by, but farm-raised quail, rabbit and venison can help satisfy your hunger for the wild side. Farm-raised game is milder than the wild variety, which for some is actually a plus. The following seafood and game recipes are paired with recipes for delectable side dishes.


Spring and summer are the seasons seafood lovers look forward to during the cold, gray winter. Shrimp, crab, red snapper and redfish are some of the most longed for delicacies. Start dinner with crab cakes and then have red snapper or redfish. Not much can top that.

Wild Shrimpeggstew

If you have heads-on shrimp, you can replace the chicken broth in this recipe with shrimp stock made by simmering the heads and shells in water. Seasoning preferences vary greatly. Some like the stew spicy, others prefer mild seasonings to accentuate the sweetness of the shrimp. I am in the latter camp. A green salad is all that’s needed here.

Shrimp and Egg Stew

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry roux
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 eggs
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper
cayenne pepper
¼ cup chopped green onion tops
¼ cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in a heavy pot, add onion, bell pepper and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat broth in a small pot, whisk in roux to dissolve, and add to vegetable mixture. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another pot, cover eggs with water, bring to a boil, cover pot, turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and place under running cold water to cool. Peel eggs and chop finely.

Add eggs to shrimp mixture, season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne and simmer for 5 minutes. Add parsley and green onions and serve over steamed rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Green Salad

8 cups spring mix
1 cup sprouts, such as alfalfa or radish
1 cup basil and parsley leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper

Combine spring mix, sprouts, basil and parsley leaves in salad bowl. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil and vinegar until emulsified. Add to salad bowl and toss until all leaves are coated, Season with salt, grind over some pepper and toss again.

Makes 4 servings.


Wild Redfishmango

Red Snapper With Lime and Avocado-Mango Salsa

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 red snapper fillets
Cajun/Creole seasoning
lime wedges
Avocado-Mango Salsa

Preheat oven to 400 F. Oil a rimmed, heavy duty baking sheet.

Brush fillets with olive oil and sprinkle with Cajun/Creole seasoning. Bake until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets. Serve with lime wedges and avocado-mango salsa.

Makes 4 servings.

Avocado-Mango Salsa

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper
cayenne pepper

In a mixing bowl, place avocado, mango, onion, olive oil and lime juice, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Makes about 2 cups.


Wild Crabcakes

A green salad works very well here. Spring mix is a commercial assortment of baby salad greens, sometimes called mesclun mix, that has been washed and is ready to use. The mix can be used as is or it can be enhanced by the addition of a few other ingredients.

Crab Cakes

1 pound lump crab meat
1 teaspoon Cajun/Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped green onion tops
½ cup crushed saltines with unsalted tops
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup crushed saltines with unsalted tops
lemon wedges

Pick over crabmeat for any shell or cartilage and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add Cajun/Creole seasoning, lemon juice, parsley, green onion tops, egg, and crushed crackers. Mix gently with a fork, being careful not to break up crab meat. Form mixture into 4 cakes.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on a medium setting. When oil is hot, dredge crawfish cakes in flour, then egg, then crushed crackers. Fry until nicely browned, about 4 minutes; turn and cook on the other side until browned, about 2 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.


Wild Redfishcrabmeat

There’s not much that can top this preparation. Asparagus With Hollandaise is An excellent accompaniment to redfish with crabmeat.

Redfish With Crabmeat

3 tablespoons butter
4 redfish fillets
¼ cup dry white wine
Cajun/Creole seasoning
1 pound lump crabmeat
2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
lemon wedges

Preheat broiler. Butter a rimmed, heavy-duty baking sheet. Place fillets on baking sheet and pour over white wine. Season fillets with Cajun/Creole seasoning and divide butter among them. Broil until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Carefully tip baking sheet into a large, non-reactive skillet to drain liquid. Place skillet over high heat, and keep fish warm while preparing crabmeat and sauce. Boil liquid in skillet until it becomes syrupy. Add crabmeat and lemon juice and cook only until crabmeat is heated through. Divide fish fillets among warm serving plates; spoon over crabmeat and sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Asparagus With Hollandaise

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
⅛ teaspoon coarse salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 bunch thin asparagus

In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, lemon juice, water and salt. Whisk to combine. Place the bowl over low heat and whisk constantly, rotating the bowl at the same time until the egg yolks thicken and the whisk leaves tracks in the bowl. Begin adding butter, a spoonful at a time, whisking after each addition. As you work, lift bowl away from the heat or on the heat, as needed to create a smooth emulsion. Continue until all the butter has been incorporated. Taste and add additional lemon juice and/or salt as desired. Place bowl in a warm spot while you cook the asparagus.

Cut off the woody bottoms of the asparagus. In a large skillet, bring water to a boil, add salt and asparagus and simmer until asparagus is tender. Drain asparagus, then dry on a clean kitchen towel. Divide asparagus among 4 serving plates and top with a band of hollandaise.

Makes 4 servings.



Fall and winter are when oysters, quail, rabbit and venison start showing up on our tables. Gumbos, chili and other one-pot meals are now in season.


Wild Oystergumbo2

The amount of mayonnaise needed in the potato salad will vary, depending on the type of potatoes. If salad is too dry, add additional mayonnaise.

Oyster Gumbo

½ pound smoked sausage
8 cups chicken stock or broth
¼ cup dark roux
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper
cayenne pepper
hot sauce
1 quart oysters, drained
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops

Place sausage and chicken stock in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove sausage from pot and set aside to cool. Add roux to stock and whisk to combine.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot, cook onion, celery and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer. When sausage is cool enough to handle, slice sausage and add to pot. Add bay leaf and thyme. Simmer for one hour. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, cayenne and hot sauce.

Add oysters and cook only until they begin to curl and are heated through. Serve gumbo with cooked rice, garnish with parsley, green onion tops and filé.

Makes 4 servings.

Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook potatoes in lightly salted water to cover until tender. Drain and set aside until just cool enough to handle. Peel warm potatoes and slice into mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard and eggs to warm potatoes and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add green onion tops and parsley and stir to combine.

Makes 4 servings.


Wild Venison

A note of caution: Recently, I’ve found that the heat level of serrano peppers has varied greatly. The pepper used in testing this recipe was on the milder side, but yours may be very hot. Add your minced pepper gradually until the chili reaches the degree of hotness you prefer.

Venison Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds ground venison
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups water
¼ cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
coarse salt to taste
1 serrano pepper, minced, or to taste

Heat oil on medium high heat, add venison and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add onion and cook until softened. Add water and tomato paste and stir to combine. Reduce heat. Add paprika, ancho chile, oregano, cumin, black pepper and garlic powder. Stir to combine, season with salt, add minced serrano pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Skillet Cornbread

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup stone-ground cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup buttermilk

Pour vegetable oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet, place on the lowest rack in the oven and preheat oven to 450 F.

Place all dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add beaten egg and buttermilk and whisk to combine. Remove skillet from oven, pour hot oil into batter and whisk to combine. Pour batter in skillet and return to oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Makes 4 or more servings.


Wild Quail

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your quail and the heat of your fire.The quail I cooked were 4-5 ounces each. Watercress and a wild rice salad are excellent accompaniments.

Grilled Quail

4 quail
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1½ tablespoons cane syrup
1 tablespoon cane vinegar
1½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse quail under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. If quail have not been split open, remove the backbones with kitchen shears, turn the birds over and press breasts with the heel of your hand to flatten. Place quail in a nonreactive container. Combine soy sauce, cane syrup, vinegar and olive oil and pour over quail. Turn quail to coat both sides and marinate for about an hour.

Build a fire in your grill. Clean and oil grate. When fire has burned down to glowing coals, place grate back in place. Grill quail, skin side down, over hot coals for about 3-4 minutes. Turn and grill for an additional 1-2 minutes. Serve garnished with sprigs of watercress.

Makes 4 servings.

Wild Rice Salad

1 cup wild rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup diced bell pepper
½ cup diced celery
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup chopped green onion tops
¼ cup chopped parsley
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper

Combine rice and broth in rice cooker and cook until machine shuts off. Let rice sit for 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Add olive oil and toss to coat. Add bell pepper, celery, pecans, raisins, cherries, onion tops and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6-8 servings.


Wild Rabbit

Rabbit can be prepared in a number of ways, sometimes marinated, often stewed, sometimes fried. The meat is lean and easily absorbs the flavors of what is cooked with it.

Rabbit Sauce Piquante

1 rabbit (about 2 pounds), cut-up
Cajun/Creole seasoning
½ cup flour
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons roux
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper
hot sauce
½ cup chopped green onion tops
¼ cup chopped parsley

Season rabbit pieces generously with Cajun/Creole seasoning and dredge in flour. Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven and fry rabbit until browned on both sides. Remove rabbit and keep warm. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened. Add wine and roux, and stir to dissolve roux. Add tomatoes (break-up with a large spoon), tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and hot sauce. Add rabbit and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Adjust seasonings, add chopped green onion tops and chopped parsley. Serve with steamed rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Green Beans And Bacon

1 pound green beans
4 slices thick-cut bacon
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
coarse salt and freshly ground
black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim and wash beans. Add to boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold running water. Drain, then dry in a clean kitchen towel. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp but still slightly chewy.

Drain on paper towels. Chop bacon.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans and bacon and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add breadcrumbs, stirring to coat beans, until browned. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.




Categories: Features, Food+Drink, Recipes