Cooking the Unthinkable: Nutria

Cooking the Unthinkable is a series that examines some of the more eccentric ingredients. Whether you are a fan of the bizarre or are preparing for the eminent collapse of Western society this series will help you better stomach weird food.

NutriaThe Nutria is, for lack of a more appropriate phrase, a giant rat. Not as large as the “rodents of unusual size” found in the deadly Fire Swamp, but still quite large going 16 to 18 pounds. They were originally imported to Louisiana for the fur trade but the result is an ecological disaster for the entire Gulf Coast. The little beasties have multiplied, spreading to Texas, Mississippi and Alabama,

The problem in the Pelican State has gotten so bad that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is actually promoting it as a food source and have set up a web site complete with recipes. The site also contains more on the history, biology and eco-impact of one of the worst examples of invasive species introduction. Great job, mankind.

Presumably nutria are lower is calories, fat and cholesterol then any other protein. The flavor has been compared to dark meat turkey. So, if you’re feeling skippy want not pop a cap in giant rat? To help here’s a recipe from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site:

Nutria Chili

Recipe by: Chef Enola Prudhomme

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds nutria ground meat
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup tomato paste
4 cups beef stock (or water)
1 can red kidney beans (opt.)

In a heavy 5-quart pot on high heat, add oil and heat until very hot. Add nutria meat, and cook and stir 10 minutes. Add salt, red pepper, chili powder, onion and both bell peppers. Cook and stir 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and 4 cups stock. Cook 30 minutes; reduce heat to medium. Add red kidney beans; cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot!

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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