What’s in Season in Louisiana: Winter Edition

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As temperatures fall, it’s the perfect time to reach for those beautiful jewels of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast: oysters. Broiled, baked, fried, or raw—there’s no shortage of ways to prepare these fresh, briny delicacies. 

The Louisiana Oyster Trail

French settlers in Louisiana began cultivating oysters as early as 1840, and the underwater delicacy has played a large role in the development of the state ever since.

Over the years, Louisianans have discovered a variety of uses for oysters, more efficient ways to harvest oysters, and even methods to gather seed oysters and plant them in more favorable environments.  Learn more about this classic bayou delicacy and other seasonal seafood selections. Read our Chef Chat with Ryan Trahan to learn more about cooking with oysters.

Today, the oyster has grown from a humble seafood delight to a major player in the Louisiana culinary scene. Nearly every parish in the state hosts their own oyster festival, and Louisiana controls roughly one-third of the entire oyster industry in the United States.

The Louisiana Oyster Trail in Jefferson Parish began in 2012 and currently consists of 20 participating restaurants and businesses that serve Louisiana oysters. Whether on a pizza, in a soup, or raw on the half shell, oyster options are almost limitless on the trail. And, each of the participating restaurants has a 3-foot-tall oyster sculpture that is hand-painted by a local artist.

 

Pearls of Wisdom

• Oyster harvest numbers are at about 12 million pounds of shucked oysters annually, and Louisiana is the country’s number one producer.

• Oysters have always been linked with love. When Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and promptly gave birth to Eros, the word “aphrodisiac” was born.

• An oyster produces a pearl when foreign material becomes trapped inside the shell. The oyster responds to the irritation by producing a combination of calcium and protein. This combination is known as nacre, which coats the foreign material and, over time, produces a pearl.

Other Louisiana Trails

Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail
Louisiana Brewery Trail
Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights
Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Food Trail
For more information, visit LouisianaTravel.com.

What is Turducken?

Turducken is a dish that combines everyone’s favorite holiday poultry—turkey, duck, and chicken. Each of the three birds is deboned, and then the chicken is stuffed inside the duck, which is then stuffed inside the turkey. There are layers of various dressings and seasonings between the birds. The final dish can weigh more than 15 pounds and feed as many as 25 people. This specialty cuisine has grown in popularity in Louisiana over the last few decades and is attracting attention from many areas outside the state. Turducken is available for purchase through many Louisiana butchers, and some retailers are able to ship nationwide.

The History of Turducken

The exact story of how the first turducken came to be isn’t clear. There are several variations of the story that credit different inventors, but the practice of stuffing whole animals with other animals has existed for centuries. In the specific case of the turducken, many credit Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana. Nicknamed “the home of the deboned chickens,” Hebert’s Specialty Meats has been selling turducken for more than 25 years, and during the holiday season, Hebert’s Specialty Meats sells up to 200 turduckens every day. Chef Paul Prudhomme brought the turducken to the national stage in the 1980s and trademarked the term in 1986.

Turducken Tips

• Thaw completely.
• Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking.
• Baste with melted bacon drippings.
• Tuck wings under to protect them from over-browning.
• Use a thermometer. The center must be cooked to 165°.

Where to Find Turducken & #OnlyLouisiana Specialties and Gifts


Hebert’s Specialty Meats 
Big Easy Foods

The Oyster Bed

This grill- and oven-safe product is the perfect way to cook oysters, and they also make steak beds!

Caroline & Company 

Konriko Rice

Treat yourself to quality rice produced by the oldest rice mill in America.

Conrad Rice Mill
Cajun Grocer 

Slap Ya Mama

This collection of Cajun seasoning blends will add spice to any Louisiana dish.

Slap Ya Mama
Teet’s Food Store 

Boudin

This Cajun specialty comprised of pork, rice, and seasoning in a sausage casing is known for satisfying cravings.

T-boy’s Boudin 
Billy’s Homemade Boudin & Cracklins

Tabasco

Celebrating 150 years of bringing heat to your table, there’s never been a better time to try this hot sauce.

Tabasco
New Orleans Cajun Store

Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup

Whether used in pecan pies, served on top of biscuits, or in another family recipe, this preservative-free syrup is sure to please.

Steen’s Syrup 
Cajun Wholesale 

Turducken and Sausage Gumbo
Serves: 10 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • Vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, hot
  • 4 cups chopped cooked turducken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • Filé powder (optional)
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Garnish: chopped green onion, parsley, sausage
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat, stirring constantly, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage using a slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels. Transfer drippings to a heatproof liquid measuring cup. Add enough oil to drippings to measure ¾ cup.
  2. Add oil mixture to Dutch oven, and heat over medium heat. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until a chocolate-colored roux forms, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Gradually add stock, and bring mixture to a boil. Add sausage, turducken, garlic, bay leaves, Creole seasoning, thyme, and hot sauce, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in green onions; cook until onions are wilted, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with filé powder, if using. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with green onion, parsley, and sausage, if desired.

Chef Chat with Ryan Trahan

Why are Louisiana oysters so special?

You can’t beat a Louisiana Gulf oyster. Through modern-day farming practices, our oyster farmers are able to consistently produce oysters that are clean, sweet, and crisp. They’re our pride and joy. When you indulge in one of these oysters, you can taste the love and care that goes into them.

If you could only eat one Louisiana oyster dish for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

I would have to say raw oysters with fresh horseradish, lemon, and hot sauce. It transports me back to all those summer days spent hanging out with family and friends. I love the shucking process and everything it brings. The smell reminds me of a nice ocean breeze, and the taste makes me feel nostalgic about some of the best fishing trips of my life. When I get the shell off, I can almost hear the sound of the waves crashing. Being a Louisiana boy, it doesn’t get much better for me than that.

What is your favorite way to prepare Louisiana oysters?

I find that my guests really love them charbroiled, and my favorite way to cook those is in a roasted bone marrow and herb butter topped with a little Gruyère cheese. The richness complements the sweet and salty flavor profile of the oysters perfectly.

Tell us about your recent Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) win.

It was a great opportunity to get to compete in GASCO 2018. My sous chef, Sullivan Zant, and I were competing against some of the best chefs around the country, but we knew that if we sourced the ingredients as fresh as possible, they would do all the talking. This philosophy is deeply rooted in the way that I cook and showcase ingredients on the plate. We were very happy with the results, to say the least! I’ve been working my entire career to promote the natural resources of our great state and to help shed light on the importance of local sourcing and sustainability.

So often in this industry, chefs are locked up in kitchens cooking all day and are not able to get out in front of guests to show how their personalities influence the creativity in their dishes, and I believe that this event gave us a great opportunity to do just that. I look forward to using this platform to work with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to continue promoting the quality and flavor of the best seafood in America.